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On the trail of insurgent Internet radio in Hong Kong

I am visiting Hong Kong, which has been rocked by demonstrations protesting the arrival of China’s President Hu Jintao (Update: I took the YouTube video above at today [Sunday’s] amazing pro-democracy demonstration on Hong Kong Island). He’s in town to commemorate the 15th anniversary of “The Handover,” as it is called around here. That’s the transfer of administrative control of this vibrant metropolitan region from the British empire to the People’s Republic of China.

Hu’s arrival comes as Hong Kong is getting a new chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, whose administration is already mired in scandal. Contrary to what Chung-ying said during his election bid, his luxury home contains various illegal structures. This is a big deal in a city of seven million facing skyrocketing housing prices and a widening gap between the rich and poor. Yesterday police briefly held a reporter who asked Hu about the Tianenmen Square crackdown of 1989.

A view of the densely crowded Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, a city beset by anxiety over housing prices and income inequality (photo: Matthew Lasar).

Positioned in the middle of this crisis is a remarkable radio journalist named Stephen Shiu, proprietor of his own Internet radio site: Hong Kong Reporter. The Economist describes him as a boisterous deejay whose laughter booms “even as he explains how the city’s next leader plans to crush the very heart of liberal Hong Kong.” 250,000 Hong Kong residents listen to Shiu’s commentaries—”a young and angry force that excels at taking noisily to the street in waspish black and yellow, putting two fingers up to the Communist Party.”

Shiu is a talk deejay and a politician. Not only is he a prominent voice for a faction called People Power, but he’s a candidate for Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, or “Legco” as it is known. I don’t pretend to understand Shiu’s commentaries and speeches, but you can see for yourself from these YouTube clips that his engaging presence has won him a huge following. I hope to get some opinion of him from Hong Kong residents over the next few days.

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