Pro-democracy protestors and demonstrators have been taking to the streets of Hong Kong all summer, leading to repeated clashes with the city’s police and security forces. Activity was so dangerous that officials closed the Hong Kong Airport, one of the busiest in the world, for two days in mid-August when protestors blocked access to the main terminal.
So why are activists protesting? It’s a bit more complicated than it seems on the surface.
Hong Kong is officially part of China, which recognizes its right to govern itself under the “one country, two systems” principle. Hong Kong regulates its own financial system, legal system and economy, but it agrees that it’s part of “one, reunified China,” and it’s been that way since 1997, when the U.K. relinquished control over the territory.
The Beijing-backed Hong Kong government proposed an extradition law that would’ve allowed it to deport residents and foreigners from Hong Kong. Protestors fear that Beijing could use the law to apprehend people in Hong Kong and transfer them to mainland China, where due process isn’t always followed – and the criminal justice system often lacks transparency.
Although Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam called the bill “dead” on July 9, after several marches and violent protests, critics say that the bill can be brought back to life because it hasn’t been officially withdrawn.
Protests have grown in an attempt to garner international attention – and it’s working. Black-clad protestors caused the airport to cancel hundreds of flights, making news all over the world – but at the same time, protestors accused some people of being Chinese spies and tied them up, all on the international stage. That gave China new ammunition in the so-called “battle for public opinion,” and now everyone’s wondering if China will send in its massive army to stop the protests.
China has moved military vehicles to Shenzen, the city closest to Hong Kong, and soldiers are conducting training drills there that involve simulated protestors and police.
What Do You Think?
Have you been following the protests in Hong Kong? What do you think will happen next? I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on either of my social media pages: