Hong Kongers have taken to the streets to fight over the future of its country and the right of its citizens. On July 1, known as Establishment Day, marking the handover of the Hong Kong from Britain to China, anti-government protesters stormed the Legislative Council. Using a battering ram to enter the offices, the protestors sprayed graffiti all over the walls, displayed the British-colonial era flag, and called for the resignation of Mrs. Carrie Lam.
During a press conference organized later that night, Mrs. Lam condemned the break-in and vowed to catch and punish the perpetrators. The Chinese central Government’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong declared that the “savage acts were an outright provocation and trampling of the city’s rule of law.” A few days after the protest, Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to Britain, condemned the actions of Hong Kong’s “ultra-radicals,” who “challenged the bottom line of one country, two systems” as well as warned the U.K., who “chose to stand on the wrong side,” to keep their “hands off Hong Kong.” Despite calls from protestors for Mrs. Lam to resign, veteran members of the democracy movement have warned against the resignation of Mrs. Lam for fear that only the “fiercest of hardliners would be willing to take her job in the present climate,” according to the Economist.
Since the handover in 1997, the citizens of Hong Kong have enjoyed democratic freedoms, protected as a legacy left over from the British colonial days. However, these freedoms have been increasingly threatened as the Chinese Communist Party attempts to exert more administrative control over the island. Despite the “one country, two systems” framework that formed the foundation of Hong Kong’s relationship to the mainland, it’s evident that CCP is slowly encroaching on this promise and Hong Kongers are reacting with force. This demonstration of solidarity from Hong Kong citizens shows that taking to the street works, but it is a sharp reminder that this is still only possible if these freedoms are still able to be exercised. Further encroachment from the CCP will mean less room for dissent, ultimately to the detriment of Hong Kongers.
These clashes have come in a series of protests that has erupted since the announcement of the extradition bill on June 15, which would allow people accused of crimes in China to be sent there for sentencing. It is estimated that over two million people participated in these protests, the largest in Hong Kong’s recorded history. This move is seen as part of tightening regulation and interference from the Chinese Communist Party, sparking fear in Hong Kongers that their freedoms are being gradually eroded. Democracy protests have been an annual event, usually occurring on Establishment Day, but in 2014, protestors occupied the central district of Hong Kong for as long as four months as part of the Umbrella Movement.
To conclude, Hong Kongers have banded together in solidarity to demonstrate their unhappiness of China’s interference in their laws and democratic freedoms. On this occasion, the citizens of Hong Kong were successful but continued protests in the face of oncoming challenges may be expected. This has to be done now to set the precedent for the future of the relationship between Hong Kong and China before too much is eroded. As history foretold some thirty years ago, the CCP will stop at nothing to squash dissent if it threatens the stability of the Party.
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