What, if any, justifies the uncivil disobedience in Hong Kong triggered by the 2019 Extradition Bill?

Sin Yui Sharon CHAN (Presenter)

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


The 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill and its following events have triggered various acts of disobedience, many of which are uncivil. Acts of uncivil disobedience are generally those, in Delmas's (2018) terms, that are "covert, evasive, anonymous, violent, or deliberately offensive ". However, many disagree about whether the uncivil acts of disobedience in Hong Kong can ever be justified. Are there any reasons, if any, for Hong Kong people to or not to resist in an uncivil manner?To shed light on this question, this article critically assesses three common criticisms about the recent uncivil disobedience in Hong Kong: (a) no acts of uncivil disobedience can be justified, (b) uncivil disobedience tends to lose popular support or divide the protestors, and (c) uncivil disobedience diminishes a peaceful environment for constructive dialogues between protestors and the government.These criticisms, I argue, are misguided. First, there are clear-cut situations in Hong Kong where protestors must resort to uncivil behavior to resist. Second, empirical evidence shows that the uncivil acts of certain individuals have not significantly undermined the mutual trust of Hong Kong protestors and their fellow citizens. Third, uncivil disobedience, compared to its more peaceful alternatives, did more effectively push the Hong Kong government to be responsive to the demands of protestors.Having said that, it is dangerous to indiscriminatorily accept all forms of uncivil obedience. Regular reflections among protestors themselves on which acts of disobedience are justified are essential to achieving their demands in the long run.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2020
EventAsia at the Crossroads: Solidarity through Scholarship - Online from Kobe Japan, Kobe, Japan
Duration: 31 Aug 20204 Sept 2020


ConferenceAsia at the Crossroads: Solidarity through Scholarship
Abbreviated titleAAS-in-Asia 2020
Internet address


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