The "yellow umbrella revolution" of 2014 in Hong Kong (also known as the Occupy movement) is bearing some fruit – but without the revolution, or for that matter occupying any public spaces.
Nathan Law, a 23-year-old who was active two years ago in the movement to make Hong Kong's elections more democratic and more direct, has now been elected to the island's Legislative Council, along with five like-minded colleagues in one region of the island.
The chief executive of Hong Kong is chosen by a committee of 1,200 people, a combination of private citizens and "functional constituencies" that are supposed to represent various interest groups – a bit like medieval guilds. The Legislative Council is based on a similarly convoluted arrangement, with 70 members, 35 elected from geographical constituencies, and the rest based similarly on "functional constituencies."
The protesters of 2014 wanted direct election of the chief executive and similarly direct elections for the Legislative Council. The election of the council this week is a good step along that way. The government may have been embarrassed into some relative clarity and democracy, after the prolonged 2014 demonstrations. Or maybe it didn't expect the healthy turnout.
Now that he's an elected legislator, Mr. Law has wisely refrained from talking about independence for Hong Kong. "Self-determination" is as far as he and his friends will go – or should go. Most people in Hong Kong don't want separation from the mainland. The Hong Kong authorities continue to make it hard for Mr. Law's party, Demosisto, to open a bank account, however.
Given the bewildering politics of the Hong Kong "Special Administrative Region," one can hardly blame Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for not wading into it at the end of his Chinese trip.
As for Mr. Law, it might be prudent for him and other like-minded persons not to set foot in mainland China (though Mr. Law comes from the mainland himself). Remember the muckraking Hong Kong booksellers who were abducted in the past few years by mainland Chinese security agents. Stay put and stay safe, Mr. Law and friends. You can achieve more in Hong Kong.