The Hong Kong Protests
As one of my first posts for our latest topic, Hong Kong in Crisis, I decided to write about Hong Kong, its history, and one of the most pressing points, the Protests...
Britain occupied the island of Hong Kong on 25 January 1841, and used it as a military staging point. China was defeated, and was forced to give up Hong Kong to Britain in the "Treaty of Nanking" signed on 29 August the following year. Hong Kong became a Crown Colony of the British Empire, which was a type of administration (exclusively in the British Empire). They then ruled Hong Kong for about 150 years.
In 1997, however, Britain gave Hong Kong back to China, and both countries signed a sort of agreement, called the "Sino-British Joint Declaration". This was about how Hong Kong was to be run.
The agreement said that Hong Kong would become part of China, but it would keep the legal, political and banking systems set up by the British and people living there would keep their freedoms.
The Start of the Protests
The first protest was triggered by something called an extradition bill, which was first introduced in April. The extradition bill would have allowed criminals to be extradited (handed over) to mainland China. Opponents thought this risked exposing Hong Kongers to unfair trials and violent treatment - rightly so. They also argued that China was just using this to take greater hold over Hong Kong, and this was just one of their schemes.
After weeks of protests, leader Carrie Lam eventually said the bill would be suspended indefinitely. However, Hong Kong must not have trusted their leader - perhaps because she herself was chosen by China - since protesters feared the bill could be revived. The bill was finally withdrawed in September.
By then, both the protesters and the police's ways of dealing with the issues have risen. Police are now using tear gas, and rubber bullets. Some activists have thrown bricks, firebombs and other objects. In July, the Parliament has been stormed into, defacing part of it. The next month, in August, one protester was injured in the eye, leading to demonstrators wearing red-coloured eye patches to show their unity. Protest action at Hong Kong International Airport in August also saw clashes and led to hundreds of flights being cancelled - as you can see, they are clever; they go to places where they know they can get media and recognition - not just any old town.
Since these protests have been going on for a few months - since March - the activists' demands have changed. Some include:
- Withdrawal of the "riot" description used about the protests
- An official pardon for all arrested protesters
- An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality
- Resignation of Carrie Lam (since she is the leader chosen by the Chinese Goverment)
What has been happening recently?
In our latest BNC session (7th October), we were to take on a role of a certain person. I remember someone saying that the protests have been nothing but violence. Our teacher said that just today the police had to use tear gas, and a person in my group mentioned that someone was shot in the chest a few days ago (evidence that I found here: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/hong-kong-protests-today-shooting-live-round-china-national-day-a9127561.html (The Independant) and, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-49891403 - BBC News). So you really can see that tensions are rising, day by day.
My Opinion ~ is what they are doing right?
Every citizen has the right to protest peacefully, I think. But it's so hard to estimate what's going to happen with such a big crowd. Tension, group pressure, the wrong ideas with the wrong people - this can all lead to disaster, much like last year's issue of Knife Crime. This is what I'm afraid of. It can even lead to loss of people's lives, or beatings - it's happened in Hong Kong already.
I do understand that they are doing what they feel is right. And I respect that. But, honestly, couldn't they have thought of perhaps a more peaceful solution? Maybe campaign like Greta Thunberg did, outside the Parliament, or try to have another agreement, like the Sino-British Joint Declaration I mentioned earlier. Just something instead of jumping to conclusions and simply protesting...
Learn more about the Sino-British Joint Declaraion and what it has to do with Hong Kong’s extradition crisis: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3017318/explainer-what-sino-british-joint-declaration-and-what-does (by the South China Morning Post)
And Hong Kong: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Hong_Kong or for the timeline: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-16526765