By Staff Writer Megan Sullivan
Hong Kong has unfortunately been going through an unpleasant political crisis since the end of March this year. But why? If you are unsure, here is where to find out.
Riots have broken out due to the proposal of a bill with a very long name: The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill. Passing this bill would allow the authorities to detain and hand over criminal fugitives that are wanted in territories Hong Kong doesn’t have extradition agreements with like Taiwan and mainland China. This attempt against controversial law has created something much bigger than intended it ever intended to be, so much so that the bill has been shelved.
How did it get to this though? As you have probably seen on the news, there have been millions of protesters marching the streets of Hong Kong that was originally sparked by the announcement of this bill. However, despite the bill being shelved, there are still protests going on for full democracy and police accountability. The majority of the massive protests and strikes from industries have been peaceful, but it is the smaller groups that have created violence and vandalism. There have been multiple confrontations and clashes with the police, famously at Hong Kong’s international airport.
Many protesters went to Hong Kong’s international airport with the sense of it being a safe place they could get away from the police clashes frequently occurring in the streets. Unfortunately, that changed when police clashed with protesters in the airport, and authorities enforced prevention of future protests to go on there. Outrage ensued from the authorities’ behavior and requests, resulting in a violent clash in which a woman got caught up in all of it and got her eye injured. The protesters then wore eye patches in reference to her. Hong Kong’s airport is one of the busiest in the world where 1,100 flights arrive or depart on a daily basis. The protesters had successfully shut the airport down that affected tens of thousands of passengers. When flights attempted to briefly resume, protesters started blocking the passengers from the departure gates which further caused airport officials to suspend check-ins at the terminals.
But why did this all start? Let me explain some history between Hong Kong and mainland China. Way back in 1841, Britain occupied Hong Kong and used it as a military staging point after China was defeated and forced to hand over Hong Kong. Hong Kong officially became a Crown Colony of the British Empire until Japan occupied Hong Kong during the Second World War, until soon to be returned to British rule. In 1997, there was a British handover of Hong Kong and China to become “one country, two systems” so that Hong Kong residents could obtain a greater amount of independence that they wouldn’t necessarily have in China. Hong Kong had felt their law had been threatened recently by Beijing repeatedly reassessing their Basic Law, to which it now says “complete jurisdiction” over Hong Kong despite the Basic Law claiming to give Hong Kong the right to develop its own democracy. Because residents of Hong Kong felt the law was threatened, the confrontations had developed and led to hundreds of protesters being arrested.
What is your opinion of all this Meg? Well, I’ll tell you to those of you who are interested and still reading. This debacle between China and Hong Kong is absolutely devastating. If there is ever a compelling need to riot, it’s a tragedy. There is so much anger and resentment in the air to cause these clashes where innocent people who are peacefully protesting are starting to get hurt from those who decide to act out from different views of a solution. Hong Kong, as a whole, simply wants different political needs than China, which is what they signed up for back in 1997; to be their own system of government. There needs to be a solution to make residents of Hong Kong feel secure again to stop the violence and anger going on. Hopefully a solution will be found soon, and for thoughts and prayers for Hong Kong to be expressed and wished.