Hong Kong Protests Enter 16th Week

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Hong Kong Protests Enter 16th Week

Nicholas Millard, National and World News

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          Over the last four months, Hong Kong has been in an extremely tumultuous state-  hundreds of thousands of protesters marching in the streets, rioters damaging public property, and China breathing heavily down their necks with armed forces at the border- all because of one law.

         This kind of unrest isn’t exactly new to Hong Kong. After an opium trade dispute between the British and Qing empires, the British took hold of a few islands off the coast of modern-day China, one of those islands being Hong Kong. Very few people lived on the island except for a few fishermen and merchants, but, when unrest broke out in the Qing mainland over trade policies, a number of wealthy merchants, businessmen, and refugees fled to the new British colony, bolstering its population. Then in 1889, the British gained a 99-year lease to more territory, expanding the land in Hong Kong. For the next hundred years, the colony prospered under the rule of the British, becoming one of the world’s economic hubs. Even though the losing and reclaiming of the colony during World War II to Japan and the Chinese mainland converting to an authoritative Communist regime. This all came to an in a pass in the year of 1979 when the 99-year lease that the British took out was quickly coming to an end. This lead to the British returning their colony to aforementioned Communist China.  However, there was one stipulation. For the next 50 years, China would not encroach on the colonies freedoms. Since then, Hong Kong has been owned by China.

         So what does this have to do with the unrest in the region? Well, even though China promised that they would not encroach on their freedoms, they’ve done nearly everything in their power to gain more control of the region. These actions have caused much deep-seated hatred of China from the people of Hong Kong. These hostilities came to a head when the Hong Kong government presented a bill that would allow “suspected” criminals to extradited to China. Many saw this as another attempt on China’s part to try to tighten it’s stranglehold on the area, but what enraged so many people was that it came from their own government, not China. Around one million protesters marched in the streets of Hong Kong numbering to have the bill stopped, and in time the bill was withdrawn. However, by no means has the bill been permanently stopped. It could still be put into place later on. The withdrawal of the bill still did not appease the protesters, as they wanted the bill to be completely killed. It took till September for the bill to be completely pulled, but by this point, the damage had been done. Many of the protesters shifted their focus to the resignation of the current leader of the country Carrie Lam. Protest over this became violent and the police responded with equal force.

       Eventually, in July, protesters stormed the parliament building. The violent protests became increasingly more extreme with the blocking of airports.  At this time, China started to build up forces at the border of Hong Kong, demonstrating increasing aggression. As we find ourselves in the 16th week of the protest, people have begun to burn Chinese flags and deface public subways.

         As it stands, the world is split on this conflict. The U.S. and the United Nations stand staunchly behind the protests, while China views the incidents as terrorism and continues to spew propaganda that the protesters are disrupting Chinese sovereignty. It’s to be seen what will come of these protests in the future. Some see it as the end of Hong Kong’s freedom.