China and Inner Asia
In the summer of 2019, Hong Kong— a former British colony, current special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China—was swept up by a large, sustained protest movement. The spark that lit this “revolution of our time,” as protestors have deemed it, was a bill that would have allowed for the extradition of suspected criminals across the border to Mainland China. Since then, a year of escalating tensions between demonstrators and state forces came to a head when Beijing bypassed Hong Kong’s local government to pass a National Security Law, suddenly rendering illegal much of what defined the protest movement—from its tactics to its very slogan. This law has had a chilling effect, forcing much of the formerly vibrant movement underground and throwing the very future of Hong Kong into doubt. This international, interdisciplinary roundtable will draw upon the disciplines of history, political science, religious studies and gender studies, as well as the lived experience of student activists and academics who live and work in Hong Kong, to discuss the broader significance of the 2019 anti-extradition bill protest movement in the context of the new National Security Law. We take as our starting point that these protests are deeply consequential both in Hong Kong and beyond it, and seek to uncover its wide-ranging implications through a series of questions. How has the National Security Law changed the state of One Country, Two Systems and its impending end in 2047? How might the National Security Law signal new forms of authoritarian violence that might be emulated abroad? How do these protests encourage historians to reconsider trajectories long taken for granted about the significance of Hong Kong in the history of China? And finally, how might these protests offer insight into transnational movements against authoritarianism and state violence? Each participant will speak for about 10 minutes, reserving ample time for discussion and interaction with the audience.