Hong Kong Mass Protests
Hong Kong’s famous financial center was crippled once again by mass pro-democracy protest giving the protest a familiar sentiment from the 2014 Umbrella revolution. Unlike the preceding protest, the anti-extradition protest marked the largest protest in proportion to the population in modern times with about 30% of the whole population turning up in the streets. So what exactly has happened and what can we expect from these protests. I must admit that when I started writing this article about week 4 into the protests, I never imagined that it would reach this point. I therefore continue writing with full acknowledgment that the future of the movement is unpredictable however, the spirit of the Hong Kongers must not be underestimated. I myself know this as I have lived in Hong Kong for 13 years of my life and understand the way of life there
So what has happened?
Well…it’s difficult to tell where this all started. Personally, I believe that this all started in 1997. Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997 when, during a handover ceremony, Hong Kong was returned to The People’s Republic of China. At the time, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher negotiated the terms of the handover as there were serious concerns regarding the people’s transition from a democracy to the authoritarian communist regime. Therefore, it was established that Hong Kong would retain its values of democracy, justice, and capitalistic economy for the next 50 years however, as Hong Kong has lost its economic importance, (due to the rise of China’s mega cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen) China as continuously attacked Hong Kong’s way of life. In 2014, China banned a democratically elected Chief Executive (highest position in Hong Kong government). This sparked mass protest which eventually died out. However, after a Hong Konger murdered his partner in Taiwan and then fled to Hong Kong, the police realized they would not arrest him as there was no extradition agreement signed between the two countries. Soon Hong Kong Mass Protests Pedro Gonzalez after, the Hong Kong government proposed a new extradition agreement. However, this agreement not only included Taiwan but also China which has a flawed and abusive legal system who is loyal to the communist party. On June 9th, about 1 million protesters took to the streets and have done so ever since. It was only 3 days later in which the police made use of tear gas and rubber bullets causing the scene to escalate. The movement has now developed into a pro-democracy movement. This movement has established 5 demands; (1) Retract the extradition agreement, (2) Retract labeling protesters as ‘rioters’, (3) Free those who have been arrested in connection to the protests, (4) An independent investigation into police brutality, (5) Universal suffrage. Despite monumental events such as 2 million (of the island’s 7.3 million) taking to the streets, storming the parliament, pro-China triads attacking citizens, China making threats, shutting down the airport, and finally, the full withdrawal of the extradition bill on the 4th of September. Protests have however not seized with the people wanting “the 5 demands, not one les
What does the future hold?
It’s hard to say but there seem to be three conceivable conclusions. Firstly, the government backs down and fulfills all five demands. This sadly seems to be unlikely as the Communist party is attempting to take more control over its territory as the ’50 year deal’ approaches and seems to be very adamant in containing the situation. It has even warned other nations to not involve itself in what they call “domestic affairs”. The second option is that the protest dies out. This is what the government is hoping for which would be a repeat of the 2014 protests. The only difference is that the movement now is larger and fiercer than ever. The people having even gone as far as producing their own national anthem as a replacement to the Chinese national anthem. The protest would have to last so long with support slowly dying out however, due to claims of police abuse, enraged passion continues the movement’s power. Lastly, China sends in the military. This would bring back memories of the Tiananmen massacre in 1989 in which the Chinese military killed prodemocracy protesters. Somehow, this option also seems unlikely as it would most probably attract international attention causing sanctions and possibly warfare. So, we are stuck in a situation were all three options seem unlikely however, one of them as to happen. Hence, it is nearly impossible to guess how the situation would play out. Will the protesters prevail, or will they fail due to internal or external forces?