Black bloc against red China: Tears and revenge in the trenches of the new Cold War

David A. Palmer


During the mass protest movement, Hong Kong has witnessed intense and disturbing levels of violence, intolerance, and anti-Chinese xenophobia. In this article, I reflect on the aggravation of a conflict system in which both sides are vitalized by the energies of fear and anger supplied by the real and imagined intrusions of the other. I trace the roots of this conflict system in the historical formation of Hong Kong’s identity as a sacred space of freedom under threat from Communist China, and the merging of these localized structural tensions with the rise of a globalized existential fear of Chinese power in the West and elsewhere. Hong Kong has become a frontline in the new Cold War. The hatred, violence, and Sinophobia can be seen as the explosion, through human emotions and acts, of the sparks and flames at one of the hottest points of friction on the fault line.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/709528