A Cry For Freedom: Hong Kong Protesters Demand Sufferage Amid Extradition Disputes
In Sha Tin, the people are crying out for Democracy.
Tens of thousands of protesters lined the streets on Sunday, standing up to voice their opinion against an extradition order that would allow Hong Kong citizens to be deported to mainland China to face trial and potential legal ramifications. This is not the first protest of this sort, as many have been going on since at least the 28th of April this year.
For those unaware, Hong Kong has existed as a separate entity from mainland China since 1848 when the treaty of Nanking was signed, ceding the territory to English rule. From then, a 99 year lease was signed in 1898 wherein the zone referred to as the “New Territories” were granted to the existing colony.
As this lease began to wear down, the Hong Kong and Chinese governments brokered a deal signed in 1984 that agreed to see Hong Kong signed over into Chinese control at the end of the lease period in 1997, with a fifty year grace period where the people of Hong Kong would be able to maintain their common laws and customs. This agreement is often referred to as “one China, two systems.”
The protests in Sha Tin, and elsewhere in Hong Kong have grown violent, as clashes with police have occurred. According to the BBC, some in the crowd seem to view this less now about opposing strictly the one instance of legislation, but see it as a fight for their rights and their independence.
One can hardly wonder why a country, once democratic, would fight so openly against Communist subversion. Evidently, some feel their very rights and freedoms are threatened, and who can blame them after the Chinese government response to the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989, and their subsequent denial of the massacre that occurred?
Carrie Lam, leader of Hong Kong, has claimed that the extradition bill is dead following protests, but has also refused to withdraw it formally. She has also attempted to resign following the protests, but officials in Beijing refuse to allow her to do so, claiming she must “clean up the mess she created”.
One of the large problems surrounding these protests is the fact that the leader of Hong Kong is elected by committee — a group of 1200 — who are mostly pro-Beijing, and many citizens are sick of this. Demands for universal suffrage for all Hong Kong citizens of age has been a popular topic, as has independence. Perhaps this is because many in Hong Kong apparently view themselves as distinct from China, with only 11%, in a recent University of Hong Kong study, saying they viewed themselves as ethnically Chinese as opposed to being “Hong Kongers”.
This division is not the first of its kind; the Umbrella revolution of 2014 saw mass protests regarding the reform of the electoral system, even though they ended without any concessions from the government.
One thing is clear from all of this: The spirit of Hong Kong is still crying out for liberty. The youth have taken to the streets again, demanding their rights and freedoms, and it is doubtful that the government will comply, as it seems as though their hands are quite literally tied.
Considering that protests have started to become nearly a daily occurrence, and that state-sponsored violence has already erupted against the demonstrators, a revolution of even greater magnitude may yet be still to come. What remains to be seen is whether or not these protests at current are merely the dying waves of the latest outburst, or the beginnings of something more.