On 14 November, King’s Think Tank’s Defence and Diplomacy Policy Centre hosted a panel discussion on the topic ‘Life at the Edge on Nations: Hong Kong, Kashmir, Catalonia’. The main aim of the event was to create an interactive space for students and expert speakers to discuss the factors which influence the rise of secessionist movements and the identity crises faced by minorities within a region. With a diverse set of panel speakers, the event addressed different secessionist struggles around the globe and identified differences and similarities among various separatist movements.
The event had three guest speakers: Professor Kerry Brown, who works as an Associate Fellow at Chatham House and is currently the Director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College London; Mr. Dennis Sammut, who is the Director of LINKS; and Professor Sumantra Bose, who is the Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics. Professor Brown focused on the current situation in Hong Kong, analysing the intensity of the nationalist struggles and the challenges posed to the struggle by the lack of international support for its aims. He raised the argument that the lack of international support for Hong Kong’s protests may stem partially from the unlikelihood that Hong Kong can sustain economic independence from China. Professor Bose concentrated on the separatist struggles in Kashmir and Catalonia by analysing political demographics and international support as important influences for the development of secessionist struggles. Finally, Mr. Sammut discussed the rise of separatist struggles in the Balkan states, focusing especially on Yugoslavia, whose breakup encouraged other nationalist uprisings across Eastern Europe.
The panel discussion was followed by a Q&A session, in which students asked various questions ranging from the effects of the recent Spanish elections regarding Catalonia to the influence of translators for the success of secessionist struggles in general. Overall, the event provided an enriching experience both for the speakers, who were given a platform to share unbiased and comprehensive information, and for the students, who were able to gain different perspectives on the upsurge of secessionist struggles in recent years. The Defence and Diplomacy Policy Centre would like to thank all the speakers and students for attending the event and for creating an environment in which enlightening discussion could take place.
Femi Ivan is a member of the Defence and Diplomacy policy centre’s working group.