NYU Reacts: Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong

Courtesy of Clay Shirky

Students gathered in the streets of Hong Kong to protest the government’s decision to keep the committee of Beijing supporters who will select candidates for the Hong Kong 2017 elections. While the number of people has decreased since the protests began on Sept. 22, hundreds of students have remained in the streets protesting for more direct representation.

Compromises were made on Monday night, Oct. 6, after the protesters and government officials created a plan for future negotiations to find a resolution. These talks occurred after previous plans to have a meeting on Oct. 4 fell through, as the two sides argued over the actions of police and topics to be discussed at the forum.

Protesters demand electoral reform and a more democratic government. They have vowed to return to the streets in greater numbers if their demands are not met.

Students and professors at NYU Shanghai voiced their observations and opinions on the ongoing conflict.


“When the sun was going down, people started to take their phones out with lights on, and it was amazing to see waving lights among thousands of people. There were no conflicts at all while I was there. The day after about a thousand anti-protest people came and created havoc destroying tents and starting fights. But after the tear gas incident, the police have been very passive, almost too passive, as people were mad the police did not prevent the triads from creating havoc.” — NYU Shanghai sophomore Kinsa Durst

“I believe that the talks will yield some compromise, as the 2012 protests and talks did on China’s insistence on moral education. The protesters will not get most of what they want, but I believe they will get something — probably a changed composition of the electoral board — because talking but providing nothing will risk rekindling the protests.” — NYU Shanghai journalism professor Clay Shirky

“The protest was very inspiring. The protesters were not only peaceful, but were kind to one another. Volunteers passed out food, collected garbage, separated recyclables and helped people safely get over barricades. It was inspiring to see the civility of the entire affair, but I feel anxious when I think of the barbaric violence that seems to loom overhead the student protesters.”— NYU Shanghai sophomore Nicole Chan

“The protests will highlight that we want democracy, but personally democracy for democracy’s sake serves no purpose unless it is for the well-being of the people. We have a lot more social concerns to be worried about, like rising housing prices … many small business owners have not been able to open for days due to the protesters … the important thing to do at this point is to focus on the social issues.” — NYU  junior and Hong Kong native Jeffrey Lee*

A version of this article appeared in Wednesday, Oct. 8 print edition. Email Olivia Roos at [email protected]

*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Jeffrey Lee as an NYU Shanghai junior. WSN regrets this error. 



  1. NYU Shanghai does not have any juniors. We just started our second year. Perhaps you are referring to a study-away?


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