Hong Kong Protests: Insight Into the Thirty-Year Conflict for Autonomy


Art Courtesy of news.artnet.com

Ryan Cunningham

Hong Kong has been seeing recurring violent protests since June 2019. The protests stem from one bill: the extradition bill that would allow China to try accused criminals from Hong Kong in mainland China. The protesters believe that the bill could lead to citizens being falsely accused of a crime in Hong Kong and then being sent to mainland China for unfair trials. 

Hong Kong has the right to freedom of speech, press and assembly, whereas in mainland China everything from property to media is state-owned. 

Hong Kong was a colony of Britain from 1898 to 1997, when it was returned to China. Britain had negotiated a policy called “one party, two systems”. This policy gave Hong Kong a degree of autonomy: they have their own economy, currency, and even passports. 

Protesters and police clashes have only gotten more violent as the protests have progressed. Police use rubber bullets and tear gas while the protesters have taken to using high powered laser pointers and throwing rocks at police and government buildings.

With escalation on both sides, how does this impact the average citizen of Hong Kong? 

Bonnie Pang, artist and life-long resident of Hong Kong, said, “it’s extremely saddening and worrying to see my city in such a state.” 

When asked about how these protests have affected her personal and her work life, she said, “I have to check social media every day to know whether it’s safe to go out to certain places because conflicts can happen anytime and anywhere.” 

Protests have drastically changed the lives of citizens.

Hong Kong has a strong and influential economy, and if anything negative were to happen to it, it would be anti international financial crisis. In the meantime, the bill has been withdrawn, but that doesn’t mean it’s fully off the table; it could be brought back one day. 

Pang said, “the current situation is beyond the bill itself and instead targets the police and government.”

The reasons for the protests have shifted but they are going as strong as ever. They are now more concerned with the amount of influence China has over the Hong Kong government. They want police brutality cases to be filed and taken seriously. 

The future of Hong Kong is up in the air. The protesters are unrelenting, but the government seems to be immovable.