The Hong Kong Summer’: A Spatial Story Approach

Wing Shing Tang,

Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

This paper argues that it is only insightful to understand the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Movement and its aftermaths in Hong Kong, coined as ‘The Hong Kong Summer’, spanning 2019 and 2020, by situating it in its historical geography, which is in constant interaction with the world. It proposes that this can be achieved conceptually and methodologically by a spatial story approach. In particular, it deciphers ‘The Hong Kong Summer’ by tracing historical-geographically the developments of, on the one hand, the Chinese state in interaction with the world and, on the other, Hong Kong as a city evolving in the globalising world. ‘One country, two systems’ was formulated at a time when China had tried to recover from the brink of total collapse after the Cultural Revolution, on the one hand, and on the other, an insurgent response to anti-Chinese communism from Hong Kong. It has been continuously moulded by the party-isation (or the common coinage of democratic centralism) of the Chinese economy and society in the last three or so decades, when, especially after the financial tsunami in 2008, China had surged as an economic power in the world. In corollary, the Chinese state has started to promote nationalism among its citizens. This continuous party-isation, as formulated in the concept of tianxia (‘all under Heaven’), has relentlessly re-defined centre-local relations, including the frameworks and ingredients of ‘one country, two systems’. People in Hong Kong have been delayed to elect their Chief Executive under universal suffrage. The latest re-alignment, as stipulated in the decision of tenth session of Standing Committee in the twelfth National People’s Congress on 31st August 2014, met with fierce opposition from the people of Hong Kong, who were somewhat and somehow informed by the convoluted concept of the right to city, demanding the right to decide one’s future. All concomitant actions, and reactions too, had accumulated, historical-geographically, into the Umbrella Movement and, subsequently, the Anti-Extradition Law and the State Security Law movements that had shocked the world. In sum, this paper argues that it is difficult to decipher these movements except with a spatial story approach that emphasises the mutual embeddedness between two polar forces.