Some thoughts on the endgame of resistance: Ngo-yiu Naam-chaau as terminal reciprocity
Stephen C. K. CHAN
The act naam-chaau (mutual destruction) can be taken as a move, a process, or a terminal strike registered at specific junctures in the intensifying situation of Hong Kong. In the course of the leaderless popular movement against government since June 2019, through media publicity, flash protests and overseas lobbying, the work of naam-chaau has given rise to higher-level damages, restrictions and concerns beyond police frontlines. The popular English phrase “If we burn, you burn with us!” is often adopted to annotate tactical actions which undermine the legitimacy of the state apparatus in question. During the “Be Water” resistance movement, physical and non-physical confrontations are mediated on multiplying levels or “front lines” of the resistance. Noting the continual evolvement of such tactics and with a focus on the widening significance of violence — not least that of the police- and system- violence — I reflect on the situated moves of naam-chaau as a terminal reciprocity. With a perspective on mutual destruction as a real possibility when the new Hong Kong normalcy comes to stay, we could look at this gaming tactic on three levels, culminating in what has been characterized as “the endgame.”
KEYWORDS: Resistance; violence; body politic; postcolonial Hong Kongers; burning together
Notes on contributor
Professor of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University, Chan is published internationally on Hong Kong culture, cinema, literature, education and cultural studies. His research covers cultural politics and identity narratives; martial arts cinema; pedagogy, creativity and performance. Currently Chair of the Association for Cultural Studies, Chan was convener of the inaugural Steering Committee of the Consortium for Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Institutions. He serves on the Editorial Board of Cultural Studies and Advisory Board for Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Router: A Journal of Cultural Studies, Communication and Society, and Localities. He is a founding core member of the Scholars’ Alliance for Academic Freedom.