Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Now Available Video Recording of Launch Event for Book: Larry Catá Backer "Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems'" 13 July 2021



Are the actors in the current mass protests in Cuba following the Hong Kong 2019 playbook? 

To what extent have disguises to foment chaos now become standard operating procedure in mass protests and their suppression?

To what extent was hijacking (of protest, of discourse, of decision making) a factor in events between 2019 and 2020?

Have protests now become virtual events and in that context who becomes the central element of such discursive tropes--the person being recorded, the person recording, or the person watching the recording? 

Who got played in 2019-2020--the United States or China?

Was the situation in Hong Kong in 2019 an engineered provocation that was carefully manufactured or exploited to reach an objective otherwise unattainable?

To what extent might one consider the radical elements of all sides more closely attuned to revolutionary Leninism; in particular might it be useful to think of some of these emerging elements as Leninist professional revolutionaries in the digital domain?

"The revolution will be televised"--how has this insight form the US civil rights movements acquired new forms and frames in the digital era of mass or collective action in physical and digital space?

These are some of the issues that emerged from discussion during the course of the launch event for my new book, Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems':  Essays from the Year that Transformed the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (June 2019 – June 2020) (ISBN 978-1-949943-03-0 (ebk); 978-1-949943-05-4 (paperback)), which I was delighted to host online on 13 July 2021. 


The Launch Event brought together  scholars, practitioners, students, and civil society representatives to consider the themes and issues raised in the book. Participants included William Nee (Research and Advocacy Coordinator at Chinese Human Rights Defenders and formerly with Amnesty Int'l Hong Kong); Keren Wang (Assistant Teaching Professor in Communication Arts and Sciences, Penn State University and author of Legal and Rhetorical Foundations of Economic Globalization: An Atlas of Ritual Sacrifice in Late-Capitalism; Shan Gao (Assistant director at Coalition for Peace & Ethics and Regulatory Affairs at Dexcom, Inc), and Matthew McQuilla (Researcher and MIA Penn State School of International Affairs 2021).

The discussion was built around the following questions with the participants offering their own quite diverse and unique perspectives: 

(1) Miscalculations: whose miscalculations were the most impactful, those of the protesters, of the local and central authorities, or of the international community? 

(2) What dd the protester movement get wrong, and what dd they get right? 

(3) Were the protests useful for exposing the growing rift in the meaning and application of human rights regimes between Marxist-Leninist and developing states on the one hand and the liberal democratic states and international organizations on the other hand? 

(4) what was the role of sacrifice in the protests and the reactions that follow; how did the notions and practice of sacrifice mold outcomes and the course of events? 

(5) The discourse of the central authorities: (a) to whom did it play best?; (b) how well did the protesters and international community respond or engage with this discourse? (c) did the development of the discursive themes developed in response to the protests drive development of Chinese Marxist-Leninism or to was the reverse true, that the situation in Hong Kong drive the further development of Chinese Marxist Leninism? 

(6) Is a a gulf between the National Anthem and National Security laws as explained in 2020 and the way in which they are enforced in 2021? Or does its application merely mirror the intent already well disclosed in the developing rhetoric from 2019 ans 2020? 

(7) Meaning making: does Hong Kong suggest that the power of meaning making on the streets has diminished now in the post global; which proved more effective discursive textual meaning making or meaning making on the streets? 

(8) Did the end result of the protests and the triumph of the central authorities shine a light on the increasing weakness of international institutions and of the international law project especially around the concept of human rights as a restraint on state legality? 

(9) What lessons should other states draw form the events of 2019-2020 in Hong Kong? Other international organizations? 

 About the Book: Hong Kong Between “One Country” and “Two Systems” examines the battle of ideas that started with the June 2019 anti-extradition law protests and ended with the enactment of the National Security and National Anthem Laws a year later. At the center of these battles was the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.The book critically examines the conflict of words between Hong Kong protesters, the Chinese central and local authorities, and important elements of the international community. This decisive discursive contest paralleled the fighting for control of the streets and that pitted protesters and the international community that supported them against the central authorities of China and Hong Kong local authorities. In the end the Chinese central authorities largely prevailed in the discursive realm as well as on the streets. Their victory was aided, in part by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. But their triumph also produced the seeds of a new and potentially stronger international constitutional discourse that may reduce the magnitude and scope of that success. These essays were written as the events unfolded. Together the essays analytically chronicle the discursive battles that were fought, won and lost, between June 2019 and June 2020. Larry Catá Backer is W. Richard and Mary Eshelman Faculty Scholar, Professor of Law and International Affairs at Pennsylvania State University and a member of the Coalition for Peace & Ethics.






The book is available (eBook) on Amazon, Apple and other major retailers.  Price of eBook is $8.88; paperback available soon through Amazon priced  at about $19.88 (though subject to changes due to rising printing/production costs). Purchase a pdf version of the book directly from the publisher Little Sir Press available soon HERE.

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