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Hong Kong’s umbrella movement in search of self-determination

Image is illustrative. Studio Incendo/Flickr

This paper summarizes the core demands of the “Umbrella Movement” and examines its successes and failures: While the world press focused on the Umbrella Movement’s core demand for electoral reform of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive selection, the demonstrations have to be seen in the broader context of the protesters’ desire for the city’s self-determination.

Hence, the Umbrella Movement was not only a pro-democratic one but also one that aimed at more autonomy for Hong Kong from mainland China. While self-determination and democracy are closely intertwined, the protesters called not only for electoral reform but for (more) social and economic independence and autonomous political institutions holding a distinct Hong Kong identity. Evaluating the results and predicting the foreseeable future, this paper argues that the movement was partly successful in terms of electoral democracy and social issues.