What is Happening with the Protests in Hong Kong?

In order to understand what has been occurring in Hong Kong, knowing the territory’s history will aid with the understanding of today’s political discourse. However, an in-depth history will not be provided, for the territory is rich with history; therefore, that would be best saved for an essay rather than an article.

Years ago, Hong Kong Island belonged to the Qing Dynasty, which ruled from the middle 17th century until 1911. The Hong Kong Island, though, did not belong to the Qing Dynasty throughout the duration of its ruling. Rather, the island was ceded to the British Empire following the First Opium War in 1842. After the Second Opium War of 1860, the British Empire obtained the Kowloon Peninsula. Together, the two territories make up today’s Hong Kong.

For years the British Empire ruled the territories until in 1997 the land was transferred over to mainland China. Although the land was transferred over, Hong Kong gained an autonomous government and economic system for fifty years; therefore, Hong Kong would be independent of China’s jurisdiction as well as law until 2047.

Learning the history of the region can help with better comprehending what is currently happening in the region. What sparked the protests occurring today is the introduction of an extradition bill which would allow for “countries with whom Hong Kong currently has no extradition treaty to make extradition requests.” Therefore, according to Michael C. Davis from the Washington Post, this “would allow [the] transfer of criminal offenders to face charges in mainland China.”

China introduced a bill as such due to the fact that many criminals or assumed convicts fled from mainland China or any other country in order to seek safety within Hong Kong. As Olivia Li from the Epoch Times declared, the Four Seasons Hotel is “hiding 50 percent of the secrets of mainland China.” The hotel houses a number of wealthy refugees, and if the extradition bill were to pass, those individuals could return to the country to face extreme charges.

Carrie Lam, though, has recently stated that the government will “withdraw the bill in order to fully allay public concerns;” thus, the bill died in the month of July. However, the protesting did not end after the death of the bill. People continue to gather at places to protest, the focus now on maintaining democracy.

Courtesy: ABC News

A majority of people on the streets protesting are young adults and teenagers. For instance, high school students are skipping classes in order to stand outside with hands linked with one another protesting against “tyranny and police brutality.” 

Beforehand, their anthem was the same as China; however, Thomas, who has decided to not share his surname for safety reasons, composed a national anthem for Hong Kong. “Glory to Thee, Hong Kong” has gained great momentum; a large population has already memorized the anthem. Videos are shared throughout social media showcasing a large count of people performing the anthem—popular performances being at malls and during a soccer game.

Little information can be found about China’s thoughts regarding the protests, though, there have been instances, according to Alice Su from Los Angeles Times, in which those who are Chinese and supported the protests in Hong Kong faced consequences.

Regardless, the events happening in Hong Kong go beyond the extradition bill. It is a time of political discourse between Hong Kong and mainland China that has existed for years.