The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong continue against the wishes of those in charge. High school students began the school year in gas masks and joining hands to form human chains. College students held a strike, waved flags, and chanted protest slogans.
After a summer of demonstrating in the streets, outside municipal offices and in the airport, students refuted the government’s wishful assertion that once they returned to school the months of pro-democracy protests that have roiled the city would come to an end.
“The government thinks it can quell the movement when students return to school, because we can only come out during the summer,” said Owen Lo, 16, a high school student. “But that’s not true.”
He said he was afraid of the repercussions he and other students might face but “seeing so many students selflessly gambling their future to express their demands to the government, it is infectious, and makes me want to come out and do something for Hong Kong.”
One of the challenges the protesters have faced has been Chinese censoring of the internet. It appears they have found a new system to use, Mesh messaging.
How do you communicate when the government censors the internet? With a peer-to-peer mesh broadcasting network that doesn’t use the internet.
That’s exactly what Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters are doing now, thanks to San Fransisco startup Bridgefy’s Bluetooth-based messaging app. The protesters can communicate with each other — and the public — using no persistent managed network.
And it’s led to swift growth for Bridgefy: downloads are up almost 4,000% over the past 60 days, according to Apptopia estimates (Apptopia is an app metrics company).
The app can connect people via standard Bluetooth across an entire city, thanks to a mesh network. Chatting is speediest with people who are close, of course, within a hundred meters (330 feet), but you can also chat with people who are farther away. Your messages will simply “hop” via other Bridgefy users’ phones until they find your intended target.
Famed writer, military expert, and photographer Michael Yon has been following the Hong Kong protests from the beginning. He asserts that Hong Kong is moving away from the “protest phase” and entering the “insurgency phase.”
1) Protest phase is finished. (Still protests daily, but that phase is finished. Simple protest are a thing of the past.)
2) General Civil Unrest: frustration/anger has blown through the roof. Civil unrest is fully involved.
3) We are at the front end of insurgency. On the continuum, this went from: Protests —> Civil Unrest —> Insurgency (all elements still contain protests as a tactic)
At this point, we are in Category 1 Insurgency — to use the Hurricane scale of Cat 1 to Cat 5.
Meanwhile, the Chinese state media has sent a warning.
On Monday an editorial in Chinese state media warned “the end is coming for those attempting to disrupt Hong Kong.”
It didn’t give detail on any specific upcoming action, but it could be referring to a potential crackdown by Chinese troops, who have massed both inside Hong Kong territory, and just across the border in southern China.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam would quit if she had a choice, according to an audio recording of remarks she made last week.
At the closed-door meeting, Lam told the group that she now has “very limited” room to resolve the crisis because the unrest has become a national security and sovereignty issue for China amid rising tensions with the United States.
“If I have a choice,” she said, speaking in English, “the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology.”
Lam’s dramatic and at times anguished remarks offer the clearest view yet into the thinking of the Chinese leadership as it navigates the unrest in Hong Kong, the biggest political crisis to grip the country since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
Finally, a group of Hong Kong protesters on Saturday waved American flags, sang the U.S. national anthem and urged President Donald Trump to “liberate” the city from China.
More than a dozen men wearing masks to hide their identities carried the flags as tens of thousands of demonstrators defied a police order to rally in downtown Hong Kong. China has accused the U.S. of stoking the protests that began in June against a bill allowing extraditions to the mainland, and treats any calls for independence as a red line that could justify a harsher crackdown.
“We would like Mr. President Trump to liberate Hong Kong,” said Chris, a 30-year-old protester who declined to give his full name. He also called on Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, saying it was necessary “to give us freedom and defend our constitution and our economy.”
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