What’s Going on in Hong Kong?

What is Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous Chinese territory under the “one country, two systems” rule.

It’s a major city with a “limited democracy” in which the people get to vote for their leaders, but China has some influence over their politics.

Hong Kong was a British colony for several decades and maintains this legacy in a few important ways: Its residents speak a variation of English, it has a capitalist economy and its residents have political and personal civil liberties and freedoms.

The rest of China -- with the exception of Taiwan -- maintains a one-party authoritarian state in which citizens have extremely limited rights. 

How and why did the protests start?

Today, Hong Kong is in chaos. Protests there have raged since March due to a single legal case.

A man from Hong Kong, Chan Tong-kai, murdered his girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing (also a Hongkonger) while on vacation in Taiwan.

This major case prompted Hong Kong’s government to attempt to extradite Chan to Hong Kong from Taiwan to try him for murder.

However, since Taiwan is also a less autonomous part of mainland China and subject to Chinese oversight, Hong Kong did not have an extradition treaty with Taiwan.

A bill proposed by the Hong Kong government would allow extradition from Chinese mainland territories, which prompted the original protests. 

Essentially, passing this bill would open the door for the Chinese communist party government to impose its legal system on Hong Kong and extradite anyone to the mainland.

This is terrifying to many Hongkongers: the Chinese legal system is brutal, lacks transparency, imprisons political dissenters and those who speak out against China’s government and doesn’t guarantee fair trial.

Its government is ruthless in crushing protest and has virtually no accountability.

In fact, many high-profile dissenters have “disappeared” in China over the last few years--including its biggest celebrity, Fan Bingbing. Imagine if the U.S. government made Beyoncé suddenly vanish without a trace. 

Since the bill was introduced in March, at least several hundred thousand Hongkongers have taken to the streets.

Clashes with police have produced significant fear and violence and tensions within Hong Kong society have boiled over.

The major airport was shut down for many days over the summer.

Chinese facial recognition software has forced many protestors to wear full-face masks despite a ban on them.

Protestors admit that they fear for their futures, as any dissent against the Chinese government could result in punishment.

What will Hong Kong’s future look like?

China’s ruling party is also becoming more authoritarian than ever.

They are creating technology that surveils its citizens’ lives to a shocking degree and perpetrating ethnic cleansing against the Chinese Muslim Uiyghur population in northern China. 

Knowing this, it’s no wonder than Hong Kong is terrified of falling under Chinese control.

The Chinese government has no qualms about destroying human rights and liberties to gain legitimacy and power.

China remains incredibly sensitive about any dissent from its citizens, but the massive seven-month-long protests in Hong Kong prove that this issue isn’t going to die off anytime soon. 

As for us, we should call our representatives and tell them to stand in unwavering support of the brave protestors and help protect them from an uncertain future.