The Crisis in Hong Kong
Hong Kong protesters fight for freedom against an oppressive totalitarian Chinese government
This summer saw the largest protest in Hong Kong history, a city that has seen hundreds of protests. On June 16th, more than 2 million Hong Kong citizens or supporters of the Hong Kong movement were documented by artificial intelligence face recognition software.
What was once a disagreement over the law has turned into a full-fledged protest that has been going on for over five months and shows no signs of stopping. Countries around the world, including the United States, are observing the conflict with tensions of their own. If they push for democracy, they could surrender their relationship with the rising superpower. If they hold back, human rights will continue to be violated by an oppressive government.
The Hong Kong crisis started as a protest of an extradition law that would allow criminals to be sent to mainland China where they allegedly committed the crime to be tried. Although this sounds fair, it would be a certain guilty sentence for the fugitive because of China’s Communist government. There would be no fair trial and the fugitive would get jail time.
The citizens of Hong Kong were upset about this bill because it would undermine the freedom Hong Kong has as a semi-autonomous, democratic state in the one-party country of China. Passing this bill would refuse Hong Kong the autonomy it was promised when it joined China in 1997.
On July 9th, roughly 1 million citizens of China and Hong Kong standing in protest of the extradition bill. This led to the suspension and eventual withdrawal of the bill on Sept. 4. However, after the withdrawal of the bill, the protesters made a list of demands that they are requiring the Chinese government to heed in order to cease protests.
According to BBC news, the five demands of the protesters are as follows: for the protests not to be characterized as a “riot”, amnesty for arrested protesters, an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, the implementation of universal suffrage, and the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill (which has already been met). The protesters have already gotten the withdrawal of the extradition bill but are still waiting on the other four. One of the main reasons why the citizens are still protesting is to try and keep their autonomy. Mainland China has a communist government and the totalitarian governing policies that come with it. Hong Kong, although a part of mainland China, is run like an independent, democratic country and has been that way since it was granted universal suffrage in 1997 after spending over 150 years as a British colony. Beijing, is trying to make Hong Kong a part of Communist China once again, hence the protests. The protesters are trying to accomplish a progressive goal, but how they are trying to accomplish their goal is not so well-intentioned.
“I agree with what the protesters are trying to accomplish, but I don’t think the protests are helping that much,” said Minnehaha senior foreign exchange student Hong Xu Ma. The protests have become increasingly violent over the last couple of months as shown by the police officers’ use of rubber bullets, tear gas, and even live rounds in very desperate situations. However, police officers aren’t the only ones using deadly weapons. The protesters have thrown bricks, detonated petrol bombs, and used metals rods to beat police officers. Without a clear end in sight, the protests may continue to become more and more violent.
Students who go to college in Hong Kong have also been greatly affected by the protests. There have been massive evacuations of students from the city because it is unsafe to live a normal life there at the moment.
“My friend who studies at the University of Hong Kong was evacuated because Hong Kong isn’t safe anymore,” said Minnehaha senior foreign exchange student Langting Deng. Some students applying for jobs are being rejected by Chinese companies just because they study in Hong Kong. This could be the result of political pressure from the Chinese government to deprive Hong Kong citizens of any support from mainland China or simply because the company doesn’t agree with the protests.
On November 27, President Trump signed a legislation that allows sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong government members that are responsible for the human rights violations occurring in Hong Kong. This act has infuriated China as it shows that the US, which has extensive trade agreements with China, is in support of the pro-democracy activists. The Chinese government demanded that Trump should reject the legislation because they believe signing it was an act of disrespect towards China’s President Xi Jinping. Trump stated that he meant no disrespect towards President Xi and believes he is “a friend of mine.”
The Hong Kong protests are the largest in the state since 1997 when Hong Kong first became independent from Britain. Both protesters and police officers have become increasingly violent over time and neither show signs of stopping. Students have been forced to relocate to mainland China in the wake of the protests. The Hong Kong protests have brought the city to a grinding halt while the two governments of communist China and Democratic Hong Kong try to resolve the hostility.