Protests in Hong Kong
The protests in Hong Kong started with hundreds of peaceful demonstrators who took to the streets on June this year focusing on the contentious, local legislation that paved way for the extraditions to Chinese mainland. As the list of demands kept increasing in the semi-autonomous territory and the clashes between the police and the protestors increased, the movement suddenly became a global concern.
According to Chinese government the protests are regarded as a challenge to its fervent nationalism. The democratic supporters on the other hand have cheered to what they view as a poke in the eye of the autocratic Chinese government. This comes amid the bitter trade war between the United States and China affecting most of the international businesses.
Hong Kong was under the British colony until 1977 which means that it was controlled by Britain. When they returned to Chinese ruling it received more autonomy than the mainland and gave its people more rights and privileges. This kind of arrangement is known as one country, two systems.
The city leader had agreed to suspend the extradition bill however, demonstrators are demanding for a full democracy and inquiry into police stations. The bill was withdrawn in September but this has not helped to stop clashes between the police and activists who have become increasingly violent attacking officers and throwing petrol bombs.
What’s driving the protests
In February, the local government introduced a bill that would allow people who are accused of crimes to be sent to places that where Hong Kong had no extradition treaty which include the mainland China. The activists argue that the bill needs to guarantee justice like in the case a man was accused of killing his girlfriend in Taiwan and then evaded to Hong Kong. Critics said that the bill would allow Beijing to target residents in Hong Kong with bogus charges, exposing activists in China’s opaque legal system.
Hundreds of thousands of protestors including the elderly as well as families with children marched to the streets in order to oppose the bill however, discussion and the demands changed when the police used bullets, pepper spray and tear gas canisters to disperse thousands of protestors. Irritated by the police response the protestors demanded an independent investigation into the police force, a demand which has been rejected.
Why have the demonstrations turned violent?
The protests have been fueled by anger towards the police and slow erosion of the civil liberties which have largely morphed by leaderless protests into a complicated movement about protecting the freedom and democracy of Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The list of protestor demands have since risen including amnesty for arrested participants as well as direct election for law makers and the chief executive. Since then only one of the demands has been met which is the withdrawal of the extradition bill.
Vast majority of the protests have been peaceful however, there have been clashes between the police and young protestors in hard hats, mask and black T shirts which have escalated sharply. The police have used tear gas canister, rubber bullets and pepper spray to disperse the protestors a tactic that has since been criticized by the protestors and the international overwatch dog. Emerging videos of the brutal police acts like the one in October where police shot one of the protestors in the chest with live round.
Some of the protestors have become increasingly violent where they have thrown bricks, Molotov cocktails and in one scenario stabbed a police officer in the chest. The protestors have resorted to vigilante justice where they beat people who seem to be against the protests as well as considerable damage to property.
Nonviolent protests have persisted for a very long time where the protestors have staged strikes, surround the police stations, shut down airport and formed huge marches into the city.
Implications to China
Much of the intrigue is based on how China responds to the protests and how much the leaders are able to stomach so as to prove to the world that their efforts actually work. So far, the Tiananmen-style of crackdown has not borne out and the Chinese military have not been deployed as it is viewed as a worst-case scenario that all sides wish to avoid. In case of a military intervention the international business community would be affected.
China has ever since tried to turn the public opinion against the protesters with the media depicting them as violent separatists even though most of the protesters seem to be uninterested with the independence. Typical control and propaganda tactics have been used, but protestors find ways via the internet to communicate. Some have even got as clever to use fuck buddy apps to communicate.
Hong Kong protest organizer hospitalized
The leader of the Hong Kong’s most prominent group has since been hospitalized after being attacked by a group of men wielding knives and hammers. Jimmy Sham is the leader of one of the largest Civil Human Rights front that has suffered wounds at the back of his skull and forehead. According to police reports Sham was attacked by four males of non-Chinese descent and they were wearing black clothes with masks. The group has since condemned the attacks that has occurred as a result of the protests and called on the police to take action.
Hong Kong Chamber in Chaos
The Hong Kong leader has been forced from the legislative chamber after protest by opposing members on the violent attacks on one of the leaders of the protest groups. The pro-democracy lawmakers shouted and waved placards depicting the leader with bloodied hands, prompting their removal by bodyguards and the suspension of the proceedings.
Disruption in the chamber and the attack on Jimmy Sham by assailants has marked the most recent dramatic turn in the unrest that has rocked the City. The protestors and the police have since deployed the highest levels of violence that has never been seen before since the British colony.
In summary, Hong Kong is a former British colony which was handed back to china in 1997. It has its own judiciary system and a separate legal system from mainland China. It has its own laws which are expected to expire in 2047.