The tensions between the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong have been rising since mid-2019. The situation slightly improved earlier this year due to the outbreak of COVID-19. However, the issue has again come to a boil in the past few days.
So what’s the deal? Read on to find out:
Hong Kong is an island city situated in South China City. The city was first captured and held by the British after the First Opium War in the 1800s. It gained independence in 1997, and since then, it is considered as a Special Administrative Region of China (along with Macau) under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle. The system allows it to have its own legislative assembly, economy, judiciary and administration while still being a part of the People’s Republic of China.
In June 2019, protests started in Hong Kong against the Extradition Bill, which would allow Hong Kong administration to detain and transfer fugitives who were wanted in other countries without a formal extradition agreement. Though the bill was later withdrawn, this was considered as the growing influence of Mainland China on the city’s executive body.
Many saw this as a threat to the independence of the judiciary and residents of the semi-autonomous city. This led many to take to the streets and demand full democracy in the city. As the protests continued, they become more and more violent and included the death of an 18-year-old on October 1, the day Communist Party of China was celebrating 70 years of its rule.
In November, a standoff in Hong Kong Polytechnic University between the police and protestors became a turning point in the situation, especially since the local elections were a few days away.
Here is a list of demands by the protestors:
The protestors followed the motto “Five demands, not one less!” for the mentioned points. As of now, only the withdrawal of Extradition Bill has adhered to.
On November 24, the Hong Kong Local elections were held. It set a new record for the number of voters participating in an election. The pro-democratic candidates saw a landslide victory winning 90% of seats from the city’s 18 districts.
A new wave of protests has started in Hong Kong after China decided to introduce the National Security Act in the city’s legislature. This is not the first time the act is being introduced; the National Security Act was also introduced back in 2003 but was called off when it was met with protests. According to sources, the Hong Kong legislation was supposed to pass the bill a long time ago, and since there was no progress (due to earlier mentioned reason), the Chinese officials have been forced to step in. The bill apparently will curb terrorism in the island-city.
As per sources, according to Article 23 of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, “the Hong Kong government must enact laws to prohibit acts like treason, secession, sedition, and subversion against the Chinese government and the theft of state secrets.”
In simple words, any slogans, chants, protests against the Chinese government will be legalized; a move which is considered as a great threat to Hong Kong’s seemingly democratic administration.
There was hope for better ties between China and the US when a trade deal was signed earlier this year. However, US President Trump’s repetitious blame on China for spreading COVID-19 has brought the relationship back to ground zero. The two supergiants are now caught in a blame game with China accusing the US for interfering in their internal matters in Hong Kong and the US offering help to the semi-autonomous region and imposing sanctions on the mainland as a form of pressure.
As the year goes on, times are getting more and more dangerous, especially with tensions mounting between two of the world’s most powerful nations.