‘Among the Braves’: The battle for Hong Kong and the future of global democracy


As Beijing has systematically snuffed out Hong Kong’s democratic ambitions over the last four years, while rewriting the story of the 2019 protests, the official narrative of what happened in Yuen Long has been manipulated too — exonerating the police, who have faced no consequences for their failings, while the victims have been prosecuted as perpetrators, Shibani Mahtani and Timothy McLaughlin write for The Washington Post.

People describe the 2019 protests as “pro-democracy,” and while that is absolutely true, it is a label that doesn’t completely capture what was happening, they told The Diplomat’s Mercy A. Kuo:

Other than fighting for rights that were denied by both the British and then the PRC governments, the movement was also a reflection of Hong Kong cementing its own identity, and then translating that into a belief for a more equitable society. Fundamentally, Hong Kong people wanted a say in their own future; to be more than an afterthought in their own city, with their opinions and ideas dismissed by their leaders.

In their new book, Among the Braves: Hope, Struggle, and Exile in the Battle for Hong Kong and the Future of Global Democracy,” they present a narrative history of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement centered around four leading activists, culminating in the 2019 mass protests and Beijing’s crackdown: 

  • Reverend Chu, who believed Hong Kong had to carry the spirit of students at Tiananmen Square, saw his silver-haired comrades who birthed the city’s modern pro-democracy movement handcuffed and taken from their homes.
  • Tommy, an art student radicalized into throwing Molotov cocktails, watched “braves” like him brutalized by police before his own arrest prompted him to flee.
  • Finn epitomized the decentralized nature of the movement and its internet-fueled victories, but online anonymity couldn’t stop his life from unravelling.
  • Gwyneth could predict her eventual fate when she chose to give up her career as a journalist to stand for election as an opposition candidate, and did it anyway.

Politics and Prose Bookstore hosts a book discussion on “Among the Braves: Hope, Struggle, and Exile in the Battle for Hong Kong and the Future of Global Democracy” with co-authors Shibani Mahtani, international investigative correspondent at the Washington Post, and Timothy McLaughlin, writer at the Atlantic. 7 p.m. November 8, 2023. Venue: Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.


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