As tension over which fast-food chain has the tastiest fried chicken sandwich continues to heat up here in the States, Hong Kong has seen record-breaking numbers of protestors fighting for democracy this summer.
By now you’ve seen pictures of what looks to be unthinkable amounts of people — once two million — crammed into streets, heard of civil unrest or, in a series of unbelievable events that happened just a couple of weeks ago.
We witnessed Hong Kong’s airport completely shut down due to what the citizens of Hong Kong claims are an infringement on liberties which, as they now stand, are different than that of mainland China’s.
Just arrived in Hongkong and saw this man with a US flag inside the airport. „This flag represents freedome and democracy, that why I show it. We are fighting for these values.“ #Hongkongprotest pic.twitter.com/8UF7LXkMjl
— Paul Ronzheimer (@ronzheimer) August 14, 2019
When protestors shut down the Hong Kong International Airport, which is Asia’s third busiest airport and the world’s eighth busiest by passenger numbers, they not only pushed the airport authority to cancel all operations Aug. 12 and 13 but also managed to get the world’s attention.
Although the protest had been going on since February, the airport occupancy had been only been for that week, which boiled to a head that Monday. As tensions at the airport rose, protestors found themselves at odds with riot police who tried to remove demonstrators.
In one instance protestors were caught on tape beating an officer with his own baton as well as turning on anyone who they’re suspicious of being a plant of the China main-land state.
Police officer beaten by demonstrators in violent clashes between riot police and anti-government protesters at Hong Kong International Airport. The officer pointed a gun at protesters during the confrontation, but no shots were fired. https://t.co/G0G5UtnZDC pic.twitter.com/Ft00lr5Jh3
— ABC News (@ABC) August 13, 2019
So how did this all begin? What are the possible outcomes? I’m glad you asked. here’s a brief overview.
It all started when…
This genesis of this particular protest began in February when Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed government proposed an extradition law that would allow the deportation of people from Hong Kong — both residents and foreigners — to jurisdictions around the world, even to territories where there aren’t yet any formal agreements. That includes China.
This is bothersome to the people of Hong Kong because Beijing could use the law to apprehend people in Hong Kong and then transfer them to mainland China, where they would be subjected to the country’s dated legal system which does not promise due process.
However, the issues between the city of Hong Kong and China goes much deeper than this proposed bill.
— VICTOR (@Victor05843996) August 20, 2019
See, although Hong Kong is a part of China, they don’t exactly abide by the same laws. Hong Kong belonged to the United Kingdom all the way up until July 1, 1997, returning the city under to be governed under the so-called “one country, two systems” principle.
Under this agreement, China recognizes Hong Kong’s ability to administer its own governance, legal, economic and financial systems, while both sides agree that Hong Kong is part of one, re-unified China.
This system counters mainland China’s government-first approach and it’s what the people of Hong Kong been defending since.
What happens next?
China is going to be smart with how they quell these protests not only because of what infamously happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989 but because they want the government to remain to look powerful. So they’re fighting back in a number of ways.
One of the ways they’re combating the protest happening in Hong Kong is heavy propaganda in homeland China. Thanks to a trade war with the U.S. that’s already hurting the country, China has blamed the protest on the States, saying we have foreign agents insighting the unrest. They’ve even copied a page out of Russia’s book, using social media to spread misinformation.
Twitter on Monday (Aug. 19) said it had found “a significant state-backed information operation focused on the situation in Hong Kong, specifically the protest movement.”
— Pradeep Macharla 🌍 (@Macharlazz) August 20, 2019
It’s suspended 936 accounts originating from within China that “were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground.” It also created an archive of the accounts for further research.
China is also pressuring companies where protestors are employed. A major airline company is investigating “rumors circulating online” that employees are drafting a letter supporting the Hong Kong protests.
“They’re actually using these relationships for the interests of the Communist Party,” retired Air Force Gen. Rob Spalding, a China expert at the Hudson Institute, told the Washington Examiner.
In addition to the soft atm, China is threatening a strong one, too. So far, in what has been more the presence of a threat than an actual one, The People’s Liberation Army has about 6,000 soldiers stationed in the wider Hong Kong territory and has moved dozens of military vehicles to Shenzhen, the closest city to Hong Kong, just across the border and 25 miles north of Hong Kong’s central business district.
In terms of the protest ending, the city may not see peace until the bill is withdrawn. Until then, only time will tell.