What would you do to protect your democratic freedoms?

This is a question faced by millions of people living in Hong Kong. The largest-ever protests in Hong Kong started with a controversial bill that would have extradited prisoners to mainland China.

The bill was put into place by Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, after a Hong Kong resident was accused of killing his girlfriend in Taiwan but the authorities could not extradite him, therefore, Lam believed Hong Kong should not be a safe haven for criminals.

However, protesters believe this bill is a gateway for China to increase its influence over the region. The Chinese government’s history is not kind to those who criticise them with the Tiananmen Square massacre being erased from their history books.

In 1997, after 99 years, the British government handed Hong Kong, who they leased from China after the Second Opium Wars, back to the Chinese government. During this period, Hong Kong experienced both Western and Eastern cultural enrichment.

Unfortunately, the British government did not allow general elections to take place which was continued under Chinese rule but Hong Kong’s citizens were given more political freedoms such as freedom of the press and speech, unlike in the mainland.

China recognised Hong Kong as a semi-autonomous state under the one country two systems principle. At the time of the handover, Hong Kong was one of the wealthiest provinces in Eastern Asia which swayed the Chinese government to give into Hong Kong’s concessions, however, Chinese provinces like Shanghai’s and Guangdong’s wealth exploded over the last two decades with both provinces’ GDPs worth greater than most countries in the world.

Hence, the economic incentive to allow Hong Kong to keep their freedoms is diminishing.

The latest protests saw the major airport terminal being shut down temporarily and reports of military intervention if the protests continue, which could turn the city into a bloodbath with the international community sitting idly on the sidelines.

Photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash

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