Christian Perspectives of Civic Action under Non-Democratic Governments Based on Church Discussions in Post-Umbrella Movement Hong Kong
My research examines the ways Christians under a non-democratic regime handle civic engagement, using Hong Kong’s recent non-violent resistance as a case study. Hong Kong has taken an unusual trajectory, having moved from a more free society to a more autocratic society. However, this shift towards autocratic political orders is becoming more common in the twenty-first century, and most of the existing literature of Christian Ethics assumes a post-Christendom democratic society. Therefore, my case study on Hong Kong provides a much-needed analysis of how Christians in a non-democratic, non-Christendom society can frame civic engagement.
What started on 27 March 2013 as the small-scale movement to Occupy Central with Love and Peace later morphed into the large-scale Umbrella Movement, which lasted from 28 September 2014 to 15 December 2014. This movement paralysed crucial areas in Hong Kong for over two months by blocking major roadways. In the wake of these movements, individuals and organisations now ponder Hong Kong’s identity and core values. Without an understood and shared theological ethics with which to approach individual political affiliations during and after these movements, the church did not propose a clear position or response to this socio-political situation of pseudo-democracy.
Through a research project on these movements, I plan to articulate the theological ethics that is capable of informing and forming individual Christians and the Christian church, particularly insofar as it shapes thought processes and the civil disobedience of Christians as responsibility rather than antagonism, particularly in the context of post-Umbrella Movement Hong Kong.
This research is timely and important because the events discussed are significant, but little research has been published on this topic due to its contemporaneity. Debates on this topic, both among scholars and laity, have recently abounded, but almost exclusively written for lay people. Although some scholars have approached the issue through analytical approaches using biblical hermeneutics and theological angles, these approaches have not integrated a large-scale ethnographic approach, as this research project hopes to do. Moreover, little has been written in the Anglophone world to reflect upon these movements, which is why an academic study of the situation in English by a Hong Kong scholar such as myself would be a significant step towards bringing the knowledge and experience gained from these movements by Chinese Christians in Hong Kong to the wider English-speaking academy. As I grew up in Hong Kong and was primarily educated in the Western world, I offer an unique perspective on this issue and an ability to speak effectively to both worlds. In addition, my study contributes to Christian political theology in a context of Hong Kong’s soft authoritarianism, because most political theologies assume a Western democratic context, which is not exactly what Hong Kong was, is, or ever will be.
Research Interests: Christian Ethics, Political Theology, Theological Anthropology, Hong Kong Studies