When one thinks of “language”, one usually considers speech, words, writing, gestures, even emojis. Yet silence – the gaps between all these productions – is not just the absence of speech; in many cases, it also constitutes communication, a “form of doing” in its own right. Linguistic anthropological research has long studied the role of silence across cultures. Cultural anthropologist Keith Basso’s 1970 essay, “To Give Up On Words”, documented how, in Western Apache ideology, silence is deemed appropriate in certain socially ambiguous situations, including when meeting strangers, or during courtship, or mourning. Work on Finnish and Japanese cultures explores how the preference for silence relates to the high social value placed on privacy, discreetness, face saving and feedback. And silence is used in different situations to achieve the same goals as talk is elsewhere: while getting to know a new person occurs in American English through (formulaic) talk, Finnish uses observation and silence. In political science, silence has been increasingly studied as a means of engagement and contestation. Research has explored various ways in which silence can be mobilised and practised democratically, identifying four “insubordinate silences” with distinct functions – of resistance, refusal, protest and empowerment. With the enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong , the eight-character Cantonese slogan – with the English translation “ Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times ” – widely used in this past year’s pro-democracy protests, was on July 2 officially deemed to challenge the sovereignty, unification and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China, subverting state power, and thus be in violation of the law. In response, Hongkongers turned to silence and erasure. “Lennon Walls” across the territory and in shops that once displayed notes of support now have blank Post-it notes on their frontage or blank pages in their menus. Protesters gather silently, holding up white placards, sometimes assembling in groups of eight, with one blank placard for each character of the slogan. Graffiti and social media posts have appeared of four empty squares, a comma, followed by four more empty squares and a full stop. That form and meaning are intertwined has been recognised for some time now by linguists, artists and art historians – and Hong Kong protesters’ recent displays are a clear manifestation of this. Such erasure amplifies the message, giving voice to both what is being censored and the act of censorship. Silence, as political theorists note, becomes a way to negotiate around and between – and even in spite of – a given regulatory structure.