Evolution of Hong Kong Protests

Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Hong Kong against the extradition bill.

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Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Hong Kong against the extradition bill.

Camilo Zeballos, Reporter

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In these past few months, civil and governmental unrest has been steadily growing between Hong Kong and China. Citizens of Hong Kong have been protesting in the streets, with some rioting against police, inadvertently forcing law enforcement to take physical action against the protesters. These events have culminated recently with the massive Hong Kong airport protest.

Protests began when the Hong Kong government proposed an extradition bill that would allow Hong Kong officials to detain and transport people wanted in other territories, including Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. The Hong Kong government states that their reason for this is based on the case with Tong-Kai Chan, a Taiwanese man who fled to Hong Kong after killing his girlfriend. If the law does not change, Tong-Kai Chan could go free and face no charges, however some activists and lawyers are afraid that if this bill is passed, it would mean an end to the freedom of censorship and free speech for the citizens of Hong Kong. They are concerned that China will use this new extradition agreement to not only transport criminals, but also political opposition leaders that have fled to Hong Kong in search of refuge, Hong Kong activists and any others the Chinese government does not want speaking out. Once on the Chinese mainland, the individual would be forced to follow Chinese laws and anyone that transgressed against the Chinese government could be sent to pay for their crimes regardless of the laws in Hong Kong.

Thousands of citizen gathered in the streets day after day calling for this law to be struck down, but when Carrie Lam, the leader of Hong Kong, said the bill was finally dead, the protest didn’t stop. This is because the extradition bill was tabled, not completely struck down. This concerned the citizens of Hong Kong because at any point Hong Kong officials could revive the bill and there is nothing in place to prevent them from doing so. This enraged even more protesters and the demands started shifting from just fully striking the bill down to having Carrie Lam resign, while others asking for complete independence from China.

Hong Kong is part of the Republic of China, but has its own legal system, currency, and cultural identity, making citizens consider themselves “Hongkongers” instead of Chinese citizens. Hong Kong originated as a very important British trade colony, but after 150 years of British rule, Britain gave control of the colony to China in 1997. China allows Hong Kong to “rule itself” with the “one-party, two systems” policy. This means that Hong Kong has free reign making laws, managing currency and other things, but they still technically belong to the re-unified Republic of China. This protects Hong Kong from the heavy Chinese censorship and laws that have trapped Chinese citizens for years while still technically belonging to China.

While protests for the most part have been peaceful some riots have broken out and have been the cause of police action against protesters. China has moved paramilitary units to the boarder, and although the Chinese government says this has nothing to do with Hong Kong, many people both in and out of Hong Kong are afraid that this will lead to a repeat of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, when China used extreme and unreasonable force against peaceful student protesters in 1989. This is due to  many advertisements and propaganda being shown throughout Beijing, manipulating images of small riots to make them seem worse and referring to the Hong Kong protesters as the enemies. In Beijing, anger against the protesters is growing as citizens blame Hongkongers for stopping and damaging the Chinese economy and business. As of the moment, tensions between Hong Kong and China seem to be plateauing, but it will only take a spark to light the fire.