The ongoing Hong Kong protests leads into their 24th week

Rianna Panergalin, Editor-in-Chief

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From thousands of citizens marching peacefully to violent attacks of hundreds every day, the Hong Kong protests have carried on for weeks. Since June of 2019, the citizens of Hong Kong have been fighting for decreased Chinese influence in their territory and to maintain their democratic administration. 

 

What caused the Hong Kong protests and what is it about?

Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997 when British rule returned the territory to China’s sovereignty. Because China and Hong Kong have very different administrative systems due to the separation of the two, they established a “one country, two system” relationship for Hong Kong. This meant that the culture, democratic ideals, and capitalist economy they created would continue for the territory until 2047. However, China has been trying to influence Hong Kong despite its “one country, two systems” relationship. 

 

But why did the protests start? The continuing protests started over a murder that happened back in 2018 in Taiwan that led to a highly unpopular bill. The incident where a Hongkonger murdered his girlfriend in Taiwan before fleeing back to his home country. But the government couldn’t send back the suspect to Tawain to be tried for his murder because the two countries don’t have an extradition agreement. An extradition agreement is a formal process where Country A surrenders an individual to Country B for the prosecution of a crime committed in Country B. This led to  Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, to propose the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance in February 2019, which allows the transfer of fugitives to Taiwan, Macau, and mainland China. This is what caused widespread protests within the territory because this bill thus gives China more influence in Hong Kong. This also meant that the bill could be used to target activists and journalists, which violates Hong Kong’s right to freedom of speech. Although this is not Hong Kong’s first protest against mainland Chinese government, this is one of the largest. 

 

Has anything been resolved? 

Since September of 2019, Carrie Lam withdrew the bill after weeks of protests. Since then, the protests have only become more violent. Police have used live bullets (the same as blanks but they have projectiles at the end of it intended to kill someone), tear gas, and batons to disperse marchers. These attacks were similar to the ones in July, where a masked mob brutally attacked protestors and non-protestors in a subway station away from the protests (in the city center). On October 1st, police shot an 18-year-old with one of the six live bullets that they fired. This was recorded as one of the most “violent and chaotic days” of the protest. As of right now, there has not been any progress other than Carrie Lam withdrawing the extradition bill. 

 

What is Hong Kong doing now? 

Hong Kong’s economy fell into recession on November 15th for the first time in a decade due to plummeting tourist numbers and the China and US trade war according to The New York Times. There’s even warning from China’s Communist Party, the ruling party of China, about intervening with military force, as they are running military drills in Shenzhen which is only miles away from the Hong Kong border. Protestors created a list of demands from the mainland Chinese government. This includes amnesty for arrested protestors in which 3,000 protesters were arrested and the numbers are rising. They also called for a full withdrawal of the extradition bill, in which Carrie Lam already withdrew. Also an inquiry into the police brutality, to be seen as a political movement and not as a riot by the central government, and dual universal suffrage.