Political Unrest in Hong Kong

Elias Arbe, Staff Writer

Hong Kong currently faces mass political unrest for the past few months as protests and demonstrations continue throughout the region. Opposition to a law that could allow extradition to mainland China has developed into a discussion about unfair police treatment and a demand for greater democracy.

Hong Kong has its own culture and political system, however, it belongs to China. A policy dubbed “One Country, Two Systems” is in place. Under this policy, Hong Kong’s residents are permitted freedoms that the Chinese are not, such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and free press also known as the Hong Kong Basic Law (enacted in 1990). The Basic Law also permits Hong Kong to form its own democracy. In recent years, however, Beijing has claimed “complete jurisdiction” over Hong Kong. 

Protests began in March (originally in opposition to a proposed extradition bill) but gained further traction in June. The bill would allow someone arrested in Hong Kong to face trial somewhere else, including mainland China under specific circumstances. The controversial bill has now been shelved; nonetheless, the protests have now expanded into a list of demands, including greater police accountability and an unbiased investigation into alleged police brutality, such as in the case where a woman was purposely shot in the eye while police were trying to disperse crowds. Protestors now don bandages over their eyes to represent her injury. 

August 9-12 protesters situated themselves at the Hong Kong International Airport, one of the busiest airports in Asia. Signs demanding justice for the woman shot in the eye, as well as other demands, were hung. These protests, however, have caused mass delays. This move represents the protestors’ desire to go global with their cause. Hong Kong protesters waving American flags and singing the American national anthem depicts another representation of their desire for foreign intervention. This comes with calls for President Trump to liberate Hong Kong. However, Beijing has repeatedly referred to Hong Kong an internal issue, and has asked the U.S. government to mind its own business regarding Hong Kong. China Daily reported in an editorial that The demonstrations in Hong Kong are a result of foreign interference. The U.S. State Department of Justice has called these claims “ridiculous.” Demonstrators claim not to cease protest their demands are met.