From June 20-29, about 790,000 people voted in Occupy Central’s referendum on universal suffrage. That number was 8 times greater than leader Benny Tai had publicly expected when the movement was facing some negative press coverage in the weeks after their deliberation day. After the vote, an estimated 500,000 people＊ marched in the annual June 1 protest.
Before the vote, it was reported that Occupy Central’s servers were hacked. The reports made big news in the days leading up to and during the poll (SCMP).
It even made news in China, but not with the same connotations as it did in most of the Hong Kong papers. Global Times, a government-owned paper, on their front page on June 30, called the reported attacks a self-inflicted “sympathy-getting ploy.”
Hong Kong Daily News reported on the 29th that Occupy Central leader Chen Jianmin said the electronic voting had once again been intensely attacked by hackers, who had tried to steal the website’s passwords, the day before, and they had reported it to the police. In Hong Kong Ta Kung Pao’s analysis, printed on the 29th, as Occupy Central continues to stage these hacking attacks on the voting site dramas day after day, the opposition is playing the “grief card”. The opposition is playing “sympathy-getting ploy” (苦肉计). They are “the robber who yells ‘Stop thief!’ to try to sneak out” (贼喊捉贼). Their fundamental aim was to increase the number of votes. A few days ago, some media outlets revealed the company that was assisting Occupy Central’s so-called “referendum” resisting the “hackers”, internet service provider CloudFare, has close cooperative relations with the US Central Intelligence Agency. “This revelation caused the outside world to suspect even more that the hacker attacks were just a self-directed, self-staged drama.”
The article used some interesting phrases. The first, 苦肉计, roughly translates to a sympathy-getting ploy, but the longer translation makes it clear that the ploy involves self-injury. On Baidu’s dictionary, it is defined as “the ruse of inflicting an injury on oneself to win the confidence of the enemy；a trick of having oneself tortured to win the confidence of the enemy.”
The next phrase, 贼喊捉贼, is translated thusly: “play the trick of a thief crying “Stop thief!”；accuse sb. of the theft and try to sneak away oneself；A robber acts like a cop.；cover oneself up by shouting with the crowd.”
*The police estimated 90,000 people marched, which is one of the highest estimates they have given for the march’s 12-year history, but even Global Times reported 500,000. The estimate of the organizers is also one of the highest.
Mitchell Blatt is a travel writer, editor, and columnist who has lived and worked in China for six years. He is an author of two guidebooks, Panda Guides Hong Kong and Panda Guides China. He has been published in National Interest.org, The Korea Times, The Shanghai Daily, Roads & Kingdoms, Vagabond Journey, City Weekend, Silkwinds and The World of Chinese, among other outlets. See examples of his published articles.