Bruno Kaufmann: Last year, protestors were occupying large parts of Hong Kong’s inner city for many weeks. What triggered these protests?
Cyd Ho: It was the National People’s Congress’ decision not to allow free elections in Hong Kong in 2017 - as initially promised, but to give the nomination rights to an electoral body of the Chinese state instead.
B.K.: How did these protests develop, which made international headlines as the ‘Umbrella Revolution’?
C.H.: The term ‘revolution’ is actually a misnomer. The mostly young protestors simply wanted to draw attention to a promise Britain had made when it handed Hong Kong over to China – namely to introduce free elections of the local government. The protestors insisted on keeping this promise.
B.K.: Is it really so important to stick to this demand, which is obviously seen as a big provocation in Beijing?
C.H.: Hong Kong is like a toddler, who is able to hold a spoon but doesn’t get a chance to use it. We are dealing with a constitutional state, freedom of opinion and millions of people, who would like to take responsibility for their community.
B.K.: Does this mean that many citizens would also like to take part in the decision-making process on factual issues?
C.H.: Yes, of course. The democratic parties have conducted several self-organised public votes over the past few years. Switzerland’s experience has certainly inspired and motivated us in this.
Translated from German by Billi Bierling