Things have heated up in Hong Kong since a wave of protesters blocked major highways in several key districts of the city, and are calling the movement Occupy Central.
This all stared in 1997 when the British gave back Hong Kong to China after 150 years of ruling it. It was initially agreed to let Hong Kong have a semi-autonomous government for 50 years under One Country, Two Systems (established in the 1980s). This agreement meant that, when rejoined with China, Hong Kong and a few other areas will be allowed to have their own capitalist economies and political system, except for defense and foreign affairs, while the rest of China will use the socialist system.
The students of Hong Kong are outraged by Beijing’s new position on electoral change in the city. The people of Hong Kong were promised that for the first time, they would be allowed to elect their own leader in a democratic election, instead of the leader being selected by a committee from Beijing. According to New York Magazine, “earlier this summer, China decided a committee was still necessary, and it would select the candidates for Hong Kong’s 2017 elections.”
The protest started as what BBC calls “peaceful sit-ins to demand democracy” on September 22. There are thousands of demonstrators spread from Hong Kong’s financial district to outside the city’s government offices in Admiralty. Things were taken to the next level last Sunday when riot police used excessive force against unarmed students peacefully protesting on the government headquarters. The excessive force used by police did the exact opposite of what Beijing hoped for. The number of protestors has swelled because now people are not only outraged at the lack of democracy, but also how the government is abusing peaceful protestors with tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Now, the people are not only demanding democracy, but also the resignation of the current chief executive, C.Y. Leung.
It’s been almost two weeks since the protest first began. According to CNN, “the Hong Kong Federation of Students said at a press conference it had met with three representatives of the government to try to pave the way for future talks with Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary Carrie Lam.” The two sides didn’t come to an agreement, but they agreed to keep talking. The students have three conditions for the continuations of the talks:
- the dialogue must be ongoing
- the student leaders must be treated as equals
- real political change must emerge from the talks
Now, the Chinese government has declared these demonstrations illegal. The scariest part of this whole ordeal is that the government of China has restricted the flow of information about the protests to the rest of China. People in China don’t know what’s going on. The Chinese government has a deep-seeded fear of rebellion, so it takes control and covers it up. This is history repeating itself; it reflects the protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989. History is going to continue to repeat itself until the Chinese government is replaced with one that is less oppressive and violent towards its own people.