Hong Kong is a special, autonomous Chinese territory that was ruled by the British till more than 25 years ago. It was leased to the British for 99 years in 1898. This term ended on 30th June 1997. The agreement came with a law called the Hong Kong Basic Law which guaranteed the principle of One country two systems for the people of Hong Kong. This law is the basis of both the capitalist system as well as the elections that take place in Hong Kong. Unfortunately 4 months ago massive protests erupted in Hong Kong. These have continued to take place until now and have paralyzed the region.
The protests were sparked when the leader of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, tried to instate a controversial bill that allowed extradition to many countries and mainland China. This extradition bill was the main cause of concern and the reason for the start of the protests. Protesters feared the bill would allow political dissidents and critics to be extradited to the mainland where they would be tried and convicted. They call for the removal of the bill as well as the Chief Executive Carrie Lam to resign. Carrie Lam is a Beijing backed elected official as are all the others appointed to the position as they have to be nominated by the mainland. Although Lam has since suspended the bill, the portraits are calling for it to be completely removed. They also want free and fair general elections to take place in Hong Kong.
In Article 5 of the Hong Kong Basic Law there is a clause the states that the current way of life and system can not be changed for 50 years. This is known as the 50-year agreement and the people of Hong Kong are afraid their way of life will be under threat once this time expires in 2047. This is why more than 2 million people have come out onto the streets to express their disapproval. They are afraid that their area will become like the rest of mainland China. This number is especially startling and impressive considering Hong Kong’s population is 7 million. That means two in seven people in Hong Kong have come out to express their discontent at this decision. The protests have also turned violent with police firing tear gas and river pellets at protestors causing more calls for change. The protestors have also demanded an independent inquiry into excessive use of force by the police citing Human Rights violations.
The Hong Kong protests show how people led movements have the capacity to apply sufficient pressure on the government and demand their rights. The people have not backed down in spite of four months passing by. The most unique part of the protests has been how decentralized and local they are. There is no clear leader that has emerged signaling how horizontal and cross culture the movement has been. While this does have drawbacks regarding who to negotiate with or who represents them best, it is a testament to the resolve of the people of Hong Kong.