Protests Rage in Hong Kong Over the Region’s Autonomy

Hong Kong is a small, autonomous, coastal region in the southern part of China that is home to 7.4 million people, and one of the largest economic centers in the world. Despite economic prosperity in the area, Hong Kong has recently become a hotbed of conflict between the government and the people. This began in June of 2019 when the government of China proposed a bill that would allow for people who are arrested in Hong Kong to be tried by the mainland judicial system. This upset the people of Hong Kong who have largely enjoyed a system 

separated from the communist government in an arrangement known as “one country, two systems.” There were fears that this bill would undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and allow for journalists, dissidents, and political activists to be persecuted by the government known for censorship and a disposal of those considered political outliers. This proposition prompted a majority of young, college age citizens to demonstrate in the streets with there being estimates of total protesters ranging from 338,000 to 2,000,000. As protests continued throughout the summer, tensions escalated until violence began breaking out in the streets with police firing on protestors with rubber bullets and tear gas grenades. 

On July 1st the protestors stormed the Legislative Council Complex and occupied the building in an attempt to stall the vote on the Chinese extradition bill and voice their five demands: a full withdrawal of the extradition bill from the legal process, a retraction of the characterization of the protests as “riots,” the release and exoneration of arrested protestors, the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry into police behavior, universal suffrage for the legislative council and chief executive elections, and the resignation of Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong. 

After the storming, the violence continued to increase with reports of triads (Chinese crime organizations) assaulting protesters while police watched. As of October 1st a video has surfaced of a Chinese police officer shooting and killing an 18 year old demonstrator, creating outrage among civilian sympathizers. This outrage inevitably led to the implementation of the “Emergency Regulations Ordinance” in which it outlaws the usage of masks by protestors in order to allow for ease of identification regarding  demonstrators. This battle between an authoritarian regime and an autonomous facet of democracy in its shadow marks a moment in history in which the world will either view a spark of revolution igniting the flames of freedom, or a light stamped out due to silence among those who watch but say nothing. This conflict is even affecting businesses in the United States. To be informed further on the influence of the conflict’s effect in the U.S see Blizzard Bans Professional Hearthstone Player for Supporting Hong Kong Protests.

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