Hong Kong


Over the course of the last few months, there have been a multitude of riots in the city of Hong Kong over the topic of the Extradition Bill.  Hong Kong is a city with a convoluted history.  Originally, the Chinese government ruled the city, but after China lost the Opium Wars to the British, Hong Kong was given to the British for 99 years.  Britain agreed to give it back as long as Hong Kong was made a Semi-Autonomous Region (SAC), meaning that while it was technically still a part of China, it had its own rights, government, police force, and many other things that set it apart from China.  In 2047, the Hong Kong agreement will run out, and it will become a part of mainland China.  The issue is that China isn’t waiting.

If put into place, the Extradition Bill would give China more power over Hong Kong.  The bill entails that if you do something illegal in China and you go to Hong Kong, the government of China can take you from Hong Kong and bring you to their own courts for punishment.  This bill was made because a man who lived in Hong Kong killed his pregnant wife in Taiwan, then returned to Hong Kong so he would be safe. Even if the bill has innocent intentions, it will have malicious consequences.  The Chinese government has a loophole they can exploit; they can arrest people for “political reasons.”  Free speech is illegal in China, so many people who have spoken up against the Chinese government have fled to Hong Kong to avoid a potential death sentence.  Thee people of Hong Kong view this bill as absurd and have taken to the streets about it. To them, it is about the preservation of their rights and their autonomy from the mainland.

The term “riot” means something different in Hong Kong.  I was in the city for one of the first riots, but instead of screaming masses and violence, the riot was a group of hundreds of thousands merely walking in the streets with their umbrellas out, right outside of my hotel.  When I went to my room’s balcony to get a better view, all I could see was a sea of vibrant colors, without a word being uttered by anyone.  The people didn’t want a fight, they wanted change.  A few days after I left, another riot occurred.  Unfortunately, the Hong Kong riot control unit resorted to attacking their own citizens and flooded the streets with tear gas and water cannons.  Still, the people of Hong Kong have been trying to keep things as peaceful as they can.  For example, on October 27th, one of the rioters pulled out a knife, and his fellow protesters stopped him from using it, not the police.  The riots and protests have achieved some good, though.  The bill has been withdrawn, but the citizens are now fighting for their rights.