Hong Kong’s protesters fight a new battlefront: PR

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After weeks of cookie-cutter government press conferences—widely perceived to be so predictable at this point in their blanket condemnation of demonstrators and outright refusal to address citizens’ demands that bingo sheets have been made—some protesters have retaliated with a media briefing of their own.

Wearing protesters’ signature yellow hardhats and surgical face masks, Jerry Chan, Linus Kim, and Mary Tsang—who only identified themselves as members of the popular local online forum LIHKG—addressed the media today (Aug. 6) in what Chan called the inaugural “civil press conference.” They said it was a deliberate and strategic attempt to push back against the government’s one-sided and often distorted narrative, and to act as a counterweight to the government’s monopoly on political discourse.

LIHKG is a Reddit-like platform that has become the leading forum for Hong Kongers to discuss everything from protest logistics to the broader political aims of the movement. While openly accessible to anyone, content is almost exclusively in Chinese, and users must open an account—using only either an email address from a local ISP or higher education institution—in order to create threads or upvote and downvote a post. Throughout the past nine weeks of protests, which began in opposition to an extradition bill and have since grown to include broader demands for democracy and accountability, LIHKG has functioned as a kind of hive mind, facilitating the coordination of guerilla-style plans. And it also serves as a kind of barometer of what protesters are thinking.

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