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The Hong Kong Protests: Conversation and Implications for Social Work

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The protests in Hong Kong that started with oppositions to the extradition bill have evolved rapidly, garnering international attention due partly to the scale of the protests but mostly to the level of brutality exhibited by the Hong Kong police and the threat of China’s military intervention (this article has a good background: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/08/world/asia/hong-kong-protests-explained.html). The protests have been led by young people who use social media to organize without identifiable leaders, and their tactics were inspired by Bruce Lee’s line: “Be water.” The ongoing protests have exposed deep-seated fear of China’s control of Hong Kong, and long-simmering frustration of young people with the society. Dr. Lydia Li will provide a brief history of the relationship between Hong Kong and China, and background contexts of the Hong Kong society to help understand the current conflict.  The protests have triggered many questions relevant to social work, especially those related to organizing and tactics. For example, what are the strengths and weaknesses of being leaderless and “like water”? How to draw the line between non-violence and forceful tactics? How to remain peaceful when being treated violently? Are tactics that cause inconvenience to innocent others, such as blocking public transportation and airport, justified?  The event is an open discussion.

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