Saturday 18 October 2014

Liberating Hong Kong

Our eyes should be on Hong Kong at the moment, and we need to be praying for a peaceful and just outcome to the struggle for the streets. Not since Tiananmen Square has the Chinese government faced such a challenge to its authority, and they need to know that this time, we expect a different solution than tanks and guns.

It is a heady mix of faith and politics that is propelling the people of Hong Kong to take such risks. The movement was founded by Church leaders, students and teachers, and their non-violent methods are deeply rooted in both liberation theology and the ethos of the global Occupy movement.

Occupy Central with Love and Peace, known as 'Occupy Central' is the civil disobedience movement formed by pro-democracy activists at the heart of the mass street protests.

Three fairly moderate figures - Benny Tai, a law professor, Chan Kin-man, a sociology professor and Chu Yiu-ming, a church minister - are its main organisers.

Occupy Central has been urging the Chinese government not to vet Hong Kong's top leader in the next elections in 2017.

The group said it would begin a mass, non-violent campaign on 1 October, in response to Beijing's ruling in August against fully open elections in 2017, but brought its protests forward by several days following student-led demonstrations outside Hong Kong's government complex.

In recent days, teargas and arrests have rocked the main group of protestors, and they are under huge pressure. Talks on Tuesday will be crucial if we are to see a peaceful outcome to this standoff.

But I think the potent mix of both Christianity and the Occupy ideology is a strong recipe for success, and we need to pray and act to encourage the Chinese authorities to accept the 'winds of change' that are transforming the faith and politics of the region.

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