Communism has held a firm grasp on China’s political scene for decades, with many of its citizens avidly arguing in favor of the, normally, historically unfavored form of governance. However, with a rising push from Western values spreading rapidly throughout the region, and the growing emphasis on the importance of Democratic traits in government, the younger Chinese generations have begun to seriously push back against the strict Communist government in hopes of achieving reforms and gaining true democracy. Over the past few months, in Hong Kong, brash and widespread violent pro Democratic protests have been taking place all over the city; today marks the sixteenth week in which the protests continue.
In order to fully comprehend the current situation developing and now reaching a figurehead, across the territory of Hong Kong, one must understand the long and incredibly politically complex history of the city. Hong Kong was originally a territory belonging to the United Kingdom for more than one hundred and fifty years, until Britain later handed the city back to China in 1997. The city’s political system was kept to mirror that of Britain, helping the citizens to maintain at least some semblance of Democracy amidst their realignment with China. Many often refer to this form of governance in Hong Kong as “one country, two systems”, enshrining the very unique situation that is encompassed in Hong Kong—a once-British territory that holds onto certain essential democratic principles: freedom of speech, freedom of press , and freedom of protest. Hong Kong is able to hold onto these principles through their “de-facto constitution”, called the Hong Kong Basic Law. The Basic Law guaranteed to “safeguard the rights and freedoms of the residents” for fifty years after the handover (the re-exchange of Hong Kong back to China from the British), however the central government of China in Beijing has begun to encroach on these liberties that were entitled to the Hong Kongers, and with still roughly twenty years remaining in the handover deal. One of the many tenets found in the Hong Kong Basic Law is that the city has the right to develop its own form of democracy, and, previously, Chinese officials had pledged that the central government in Beijing would not make any attempts to interfere with that—but has since broken this pledge. This continued encroachment in the deal made between the Chinese and the British is part of the grand problem that has resulted in the ongoing violent and brutal protests throughout the city of Hong Kong for the past few months.
Not only is the situation itself complex, but the varying forms of protests, ranging from completely peaceful incredibly brash and violent, illustrates the wide levels of frustration being experienced by the Hong Kongers who are being so terribly affected. The violence began in a Hong Kong airport where protesters began to turn to extreme measures out of frustration. However, some of the most notorious actions taken by protestors included breaking into and vandalizing a government building and displaying a banner titled “There’s no rioters, there’s only tyranny”, protestors loading themselves onto metro trains and blockading them only to be met by brutal beatings from the police and government, and open street conflicts between police and pro-democratic protestors. The protests were clearly very strategically planned as the airport, one of the busiest in Asia, if not the busiest, was forced to shutdown and resulted in an immediate message being received by the Chinese government, and eyes all over the world focusing on the incredibly heated political tension and situation reaching a head in Hong Kong.
Over the course of the sixteen weeks of protests and open violent interactions, the pro-democratic protestors came up with a list of five major demands. These demands include: “withdraw the bill, for leader Carrie Lam to step down, an inquiry into police brutality, for those who have been arrested to be released, and greater democratic freedoms.” (Why Hong Kong is Protesting) The demands have, obviously, yet to be met by the Chinese government, and so the protests and unrelenting violence continue to spread across the city of Hong Kong. Chinese officials have long been fearful of the city, as they view it a threat to their Communist hold on the nation, and also believe it to be a city that harbors criminals—which is, arguably for them, another reason why the city should be brought into the fold of pure Communist rule.
Officials in both Hong Kong and Beijing are growing increasingly critical of the various protests taking place, condemning them to the fullest extent. The government has shifted its handling of the protests, in terms of media coverage, from “censorship” to labeling the protestors as “violent mobs” and “criminals”, illustrating their intelligent use of the present situation to gain support from other leaders and media around the world. The situation will only continue to prove increasingly dire as protestors resort to taking much more desperate actions and the government becomes increasingly desperate in their desire to control the situation and come out on top as victorious. However, only time will tell if the various efforts being made by the protestors will ultimately prove effective, or if the government will eventually assume control of Hong Kong and the last strand of Democracy will be torn from the nation.
Work Cited Page
“Hong Kong-China Extradition Plans Explained”. BBC News, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-47810723. Accessed 24 Sept 2019.
“Hundreds Of Hong Kong Protesters Storm Government Building Over China Extradition Bill”. Edition.Cnn.Com, 2019, https://edition.cnn.com/asia/live-news/hong-kong-july-1-protests-intl-hnk/index.html. Accessed 24 Sept 2019.
“Tara John, CNN. “Why Hong Kong Is Protesting”. CNN, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/asia/hong-kong-airport-protest-explained-hnk-intl/index.html. Accessed 24 Sept 2019.