Hong Kong protests

This item appears on page 16 of the August 2019 issue.

In the streets of Hong Kong, beginning June 9 and continuing at press time, people protested against a proposed bill that would allow mainland China authorities to arrest and extradite Hong Kong citizens suspected of crimes against the state.

With peak numbers estimated from 240,000 to 2,000,000 on the day of the highest turnout, these were the largest protests in Hong Kong since the city was returned by the UK to China in 1997.

On June 17, Hong Kong’s chief legislator, Carrie Lam, apologized to Hong Kong citizens for the extradition bill but refused to withdraw it from consideration in Parliament. In response to her statement, protesters returned to the streets and demanded that she resign.

Overall, the protests were largely peaceful, however clashes between protesters and police did occur, resulting in rubber bullets and tear gas being fired at protesters.

Under the “one country, two systems” policy that China agreed to upon the return of Hong Kong, Hong Kong is allowed to maintain its own parliament and judiciary system until 2047.

On July 1, the anniversary of Britain’s handover of Hong Kong back to China, protesters stormed the Legislative Council building, occupying it for hours, vandalizing the chambers with graffiti and raising the former British colonial flag. Police gave occupiers until midnight to leave the building, then moved to evict the protesters with tear gas, which was the situation at press time.