Hong Kong protests explained

Friday 14th June 2019 | Jake

The people of Hong Kong are angry.


Mass protests have shut down parts of the city for almost a week now. They march against the proposed extradition laws, laws that will make it far easier for China to extradite people from the 'special autonomous region' to mainland China. Critics worry China will use the law to hunt down its political opponents and punish them. The legal change is also further evidence of the Hong Kong public’s quickly eroding civil rights, rights which were hard fought for by the British during the twilight of their 99 year tenure which ended in 1997. 

Since 1997, when Hong Kong was  back to China following the period know as the 'Opium Wars' whereby China refused to accept the drug as payment for the huge quantities of tea desired by the British, the region has operated under a ‘one country, two systems’ basis. This should mean the Communist party ruling China has a reduced control over the region, however, the mainland has been tightening its grip in recent years. Now Hong Kong residents fear their civil rights, including the right to protest, are fading.

On Wednesday police fired rubber bullets at the protesters, injuring many. Police figures estimate 240,000 people had joined the march at its peak, while the organisers of the protest and other media outlets quoting that over a million citizens had got involved with the protest movement.

Many pro-Beijing officials and Hong Kong residents still claim the protests had been organised and even funded by parties wishing to discredit and make trouble for China, a country widely accepted as having an authoritarian government as well as high levels of state involvement in their own economy.   

If successful, the new extradition law will see any person accused of a crime punishable by longer than seven years vulnerable to the risk of extradition to the mainland. Hong Kong officials deny central government in China is pushing the amendment, with the hundreds of thousands of citizens on the street believing otherwise.