This is just a personal insight in to the Occupy Central Hong Kong (OCHK) camp. Hopefully it gives a bit more of an idea of what is going on there.
I think the first thing I should say is that I don't have the greatest knowledge of what has been happening in Occupy around the world. I haven't kept up to date with all the goings on around the world but I have a rough idea of what some of the other Occupy camps have been like.
The next thing I want to say is that some of my insight in to what is going on at OCHK is blinkered because of language differences. Even though occupiers most speak English, Cantonese is the main language used at the camp.
Something that strikes you about OCHK straight away is that it's position could not of been chosen better. It is directly under the HSBC HQ building, which is basically used more or less as a public space and gets a lot of people passing through it. It gives the occupiers a roof over their heads but still keeping it in a very public place, which is also quite symbolic at the same time.
Most of the passers-by seem used to seeing the camp on their way to work or their way home. It has been there about 3 and a half months now and is showing no signs of being moved at the moment. HSBC seem content with it being there and I was told that they have even said something along the lines of them being “sympathetic to young idealists in Occupy”. This is obviously some PR to make HSBC look like a 'friendly' and 'caring' bank, which is obviously bollocks. That said there is constant private security monitoring of the camp, with them using video cameras to document the camp.
There are many people who drop by at the camp, curious to what is going on. They see the camp, surrounded by banners in Chinese and English and want to know more about the reason behind it. It's also used a lot by backpackers for a free place to stay, some more curious than others about the politics behind the camp. If you asked different occupiers what the camp is about, you would get different answers but there is a definite anti-capitalist message that unites them.
(I have encountered a conspiracy theorist type, but none of the occupiers seemed to know who he was and was just a visitor trying to spread his batshit insane ideas about manufactured kiwifruit or sumet and left a bunch of David Icke books behind.)
I think there does need to be a clearer message coming from the camp and I know there has been some work on doing this but has taken longer than it should of. The occupiers seem pretty aware of it, so hopefully this can develop soon.
One of the developments to come out of the camp is a Free School. The emphasis is more on practical subjects, which can be taught for use in everyday life or just as a leisure activity. Examples include yoga, English literature, guitar playing, hacking etc. This is still getting off the ground but has potential for the camp to interact with the surrounding community more if it is done in the right way.
It does seem that there are some lost opportunities to have more political discussion within the camp. The meetings from my experience have been dealing with practical things (obviously this is needed to keep the camp going). But on top of this there should be more space for theoretical discussions to happen for those within and outside of the camp. I have talked politics with members of the camp, but only really on an informal basis.
When talking to the occupiers about what the camp has achieved, a lot of it seems to be about the personal experience of the camp, showing them that alternative ways of living are possible. They are trying to live using a gift economy and decide what happens in the camp on a consensus basis. This is obviously not an easy thing to do and has caused some friction.
Overall my perception of the camp is positive, mainly because it has given me a way to network with other anarchists and Marxists. This would have been harder for me without the camp because it is hard to find much information about what is happening in HK apart from the CWI group and another socialist group called Left21. It has given an open invitation for people to drop by and talk about politics for those who want to as well as create curiosity in those who otherwise wouldn't 'be into politics'.
Hopefully it can develop and find more direction to help it be more effective.