NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
HONG KONG — When hundreds of protesters in Hong Kong swarmed into the legislature’s main building on July 1, they stood on lawmakers’ desks in the main legislative chamber, painted over the territory’s emblem high up on a wooden wall, and wrote slogans calling for a democratic election of the city’s leader and denouncing now-suspended extradition legislation that sparked the protests.
Many protestors wore yellow and white helmets, face masks, and the black T-shirts that have become their uniform. Then one man stood out when he decided to unmask himself.
Brian Leung Kai-ping, 25, shouted, “The more people here, the safer we are. Let’s stay and occupy the chamber, we can’t lose anymore,” urging fellow protesters who entered the chamber of the legislature to stay. But he eventually gave up as most protesters chose to leave and police readied for a clearance operation.
The University of Washington confirmed to the Northwest Asian Weekly that Leung is a doctoral student in political science.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Leung wanted to study why authoritarianism is so resilient and how civil society can spur democratic transition.
Leung obtained a dual degree in law and politics at the University of Hong Kong, and was the former chief editor of the Undergrad, a school magazine published by the student union.
“The reason why I remove my mask, is to let everyone know that we Hongkongers, have nothing more to lose. Hongkongers cannot lose anymore.
If we lose again, it’s 10 years. Think about it, 10 years. Our civil society would sink to the bottom,” Leung told protestors.
Even as Leung spoke, one of the other protesters tugged at his shirt, urging him to cover his face again.
Hong Kong has been wracked by weeks of protests over a government attempt to change extradition laws to allow suspects to be sent to China to face trial. The proposed legislation has drawn opposition from the legal profession, commercial groups, and foreign nations, reflecting Hong Kong’s status as an international business center with a strong independent judiciary and high degree of transparency.
Hong Kong and the United States have an extradition treaty, but even if Leung had indeed fled to the United States, it was unclear if local authorities would submit a request to have him returned to the city, or whether the American government would accept the demand.