Forum: At the Gates of Heaven

  • Paul Tembe Centre for Chinese Studies, Stellenbosch University


Since the Hong Kong SAR handover to China the region has experienced perenni-al protests, culminating in the ‘Umbrella Revolution’ in September 2014. The ma-jority of observers, reporters and analysts have tended to frame the events as a war between democratic and communist forces. Overlooked is a deeper struggle be-tween two visions of social order, with Hong Kong protesters advocating individu-al freedoms and the Mainland insisting on ‘unity’ under the framework of a ‘harmonious society’ spanning greater China. At the heart of the protests are the mistrusts laden in the rhetoric each party uses to make its case. The following dis-cussion examines some of the contradictions embedded in Hong Kong’s Basic Law and proceeds to highlight the repository of shared Chinese cultural norms, collectively spanning both Hong Kong and Mainland China, which could poten-tially function as tools of reconciliation.