The Magic: the Gathering community spans nearly every continent and country in this world and represents an incredibly diverse group of global citizens. While we’re all here to celebrate and cherish the hobby we love so dearly, sometimes world events affect members of our community so deeply that we all feel it. This is one of those times.

It all started five years ago with the “Umbrella Revolution,” which had the goal of securing an open election in Hong Kong.

We lost.

The movement failed and Carrie Lam was selected as the Chief Executive of Hong Kong by a 1,200-member Election Committee in 2017. The Committee is basically a group made of people with premium social status and those privileged by, and profiting from, the existing political system.

In the five years since the Umbrella Revolution, the government has continued to sell out Hong Kong.

The government disqualified multiple pro-democracy legislators for “improper oath-taking.” It turned the Hong Kong Legislative Council into a rubber-stamping machine controlled by the government, without considering the real needs of Hongkongers.

We got an over-costed High Speed Rail where we ceded part of our territory inside the rail station to the mainland Chinese authorities.

We got a metro station with sections that were sinking beyond the existing safety limits while it was under construction. Rather than fix the structural problems, the government simply changed safety standards to let the building company pass the safety tests.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (Photo from Channel Asia News)

Editor’s Note: Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Its justice system is separate from China’s due to provisions in the 1984 agreement between China and the United Kingdom that changed Hong Kong from a British Colony to a Special Administrative Region of China.

Why Now

This time, there is a murder case in Taiwan. A Hongkonger murdered his girlfriend while on vacation in Taiwan in 2018 and escaped to Hong Kong, where he was arrested. However, the government of Hong Kong couldn’t extradite the murderer because its current extradition law does not cover Taiwan.

The government of Hong Kong used this as a pretext to try and pass a new extradition law, which would allow Hong Kong to return the murderer to Taiwan for trial. But the Taiwanese government announced they would not accept the current suggested changes to the extradition law, yet the Hong Kong government still insisted on passing the new law.

To put that in Magic terms: when your opponent leaves up two mana for the whole game and casts all of their spells off-curve, you know there must be something going on beyond the information directly in front of you. Or perhaps you get passed a second-pick Ugin, the Ineffable and figure out that your neighbor picked something specific like a foil Liliana, Dreadhorde General or even a foil Ugin.

Lots of people similarly figured out what was going on behind the scenes and identified that the Hong Kong government was trying to use this case with Taiwan to pass a more sweeping extradition law. The new extradition law could apply to countries other than Taiwan, like China, where an open and fair trial cannot be guaranteed. Your assets could be confiscated and you could be arrested for “committing a crime” in nearby countries.

This law is spreading new White Terrors, where criticism against the Communist Party or China could lead to your arrest.

(Photo from Agence France-Presse)

The Protest

With this in mind, lots of Hongkongers felt this could be the last time they would be allowed to freely express their views if the new extradition law were to pass. It could irreparably damage our freedom of speech in Hong Kong and undermine our democratic values.

We ended up getting over a million of Hong Kong’s over seven million people on the street demanding the withdrawal of the extradition law on Sunday, June 9. It took over eight hours for the protesters to finish a four kilometer march. A mere 20 minutes after the protest, the government announced the legislative meeting for the new law to continue as scheduled on Wednesday, June 12, which was a huge slap to the people’s face. With the pro-democracy lawmakers disqualified, there would not be enough votes to oppose the bill. The government’s announcement was a simple declaration that they intend to ignore the people’s demands.

Protesters rally against a controversial extradition law proposal in Hong Kong on June 12, 2019. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP)ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

What We Did

On the night of Tuesday, June 11, a crowd started to gather around the legislative council. By the next morning there were too many people around the council, forcing the crowd to start to occupy the roads.

By 3 PM that day, there were more and more people in the area and more roads were becoming blocked. None of us were willing to leave unless the government withdrew the extradition bill. People were yelling slogans and distributing protective masks and water to the newcomers. If there are utopias in the world, the peaceful protest is definitely one of them.

By 4 PM, more and more requests for material support came from the front of the protest. We started to build up a supply chain to pass materials, specifically asking for saline solution to counteract the effects of tear gas on our eyes, and umbrellas.

At 4:30 PM, the police declared the protest to be a riot despite that it was still a peaceful protest. We are a group of unarmed citizens facing a group of fully-equipped law enforcement units. It didn’t take long for the police to fire tear gas and rubber bullets in the name of riot control. Lots of people were arrested and some were injured and taken to a hospital.

The tear gas spread so quickly that we had to flee. As I was at the outer edge of the protest, I moved to a church after the second wave of tear gas. I rested and then tried to walk back towards the protest area to check on the situation. More cans of tear gas were shot in a block right in front of me so I decided I would be unable to keep protesting that day.

At the end of the day, over 150 cans of tear gas and several rubber bullets were fired on peaceful protesters. Journalists and first aid stations were attacked. The police claimed that they had “no choice,” but the world already knows that is a blatant lie.

There are thousands of video clips showing that the police are using unnecessary force to clear out protestors. And the true reason behind that is they need to clear the path for the councillors to vote for the extradition law that over a million Hongkongers took to the street to oppose.

History tends to repeat itself. These times in Hong Kong remind me of Nazi Germany and what happened in Tiananmen Square thirty years ago. The world knows what is right, but apparently this Hong Kong government is willing to intentionally repeat the mistakes of history and use law enforcement as a way to violently rule their citizens. If that is the case, we have to say no to this governance by blood and fight until justice is served.

I don’t know if Hong Kong can win or even truly survive this time. What I can do is just shout out as loud as I can, to anywhere and anyone who still believes in justice.

The most important thing I learnt in playing Magic is to never give up. And I am sure most of Hong Kong is not going to give up until we get the freedom that we demand. Not until they fully retract the new law, not just suspend it, and clear the names of the so-called “rioters” that they framed.

May God bless Hong Kong.


Lee Shi Tian one of the most decorated players in Magic history. He is a multiple-time competitor at the World Championship, has an incredible resume of Pro Tour and Grand Prix finishes, is a member of the Pro Tour Hall of Fame. In 2018 Lee Shi Tian had the honor of captaining the Hong Kong National team to a 3rd place finish at the World Magic Cup. 


Videos of the Hong Kong Protests

Content Warning: Some of these videos are graphic.

Protester Coughs Up Blood

Hong Kong Police Jump on Protester

Hong Kong Police Spray Passing By Foreigner with Pepper spray

Hong Kong Police Headshot Protesters

Hong Kong Police Drag A Fainted Protestor

Hong Kong Police Prohibit The Entrance Of Ambulance

Hong Kong Police Use Pepper Spray in Subway Station

Hong Kong Police Fire Tear Gas At Reporters

Hong Kong Police Fire Tear Gas

Hong Kong Police Fire Tear Gas

Hong Kong Police Clampdown

Hong Kong Police Jump on Protester Carrying A Box Of Bottles

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