What began as a targeted protest against the Extradition Bill in June has now gained traction and evolved into a fight of nearly two million HongKongers for the future of Hong Kong.
The bill would have allowed for criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China under certain circumstances. This raises concern among the citizens of Hong Kong who have been enjoying special Judicial Independence since 1997 under the “One Country Two Systems” arrangement. The Bill has the potential to endanger it all and further put at risk Hong Kong’s activists and outspoken journalists by suppressing or eliminating them. This can be done by exposing HongKongers to unfair trials and violent treatment.
The protests escalated further when the protesters feared that the suspended bill (by the Chief Executive, Carrie Lam) could be revived, calling for it to be withdrawn completely.
What do the protesters demand?
For the protests not to be characterized as a "riot".
Amnesty for arrested protesters. (4500 approx.)
An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality.
Resignation of Carrie Lam and implementation of complete universal suffrage.
Complete withdrawal of the Extradition Bill.
*though the 5th demand has already been met.
A matter of concern for China?
China has taken an increasingly hard line against Hong Kong’s protest because it sees them as a threat to its growing influence in the territory which had contributed about 27% of its GDP in the 1990s but is now currently reduced to a meagre 3%.
China intends to bring Hong Kong in proximity to the mainland communism and not care so much about those “pesky freedoms”. It wants Hong Kong to switch its language to Mandarin instead of Cantonese and to not commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Hong Kong’s sense of connection to mainland China has diminished since the 1997 handover and can be seen by the still prevalent British lifestyle there. The thing that seems certain in this uncertainty is that this is a political crisis with no obvious endgame.
Sources – CNN, Vox, BBC.