Hong Kong’s huge protests, explained

Hong Kong’s huge protests, explained


The people of Hong Kong are out in the streets. Hundreds of thousands are demonstrating against
a deeply unpopular bill. But this is about a whole lot more than a bill. It’s about the status of Hong Kong
and the power China has over it. It’s a fight to preserve the freedoms people
have here. And it all started with a murder. On February 8, 2018, a young couple, Chan
Tong Kai and Poon Hiu-Wing, went from their home in Hong Kong to Taiwan for a vacation. They stayed at the Purple Garden Hotel in
Taipei for nine days. But on February 17th only one of them returned
to Hong Kong. There, one month later, Chan confessed to
murdering his girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time. But there was a problem. Hong Kong authorities couldn’t charge him
for murder, because he did it in Taiwan. And they couldn’t send him back to Taiwan
to be charged, because Hong Kong and Taiwan don’t have
an extradition agreement. So in 2019, Hong Kong’s government proposed
one: it would let them transfer suspects to Taiwan so they could be tried for their crimes. But the same bill would also allow extradition
to mainland China. Where there’s no fair trial, there’s no humane punishment, and there’s completely no separation
of powers. And that’s what sparked these protests. China and Hong Kong are two very different
places with a very complex political relationship. And the extradition bill threatens to give
China more power over Hong Kong. See, Hong Kong is technically a part of China. But it operates as a semi-autonomous region. It all began in the late 1800s, when China
lost a series of wars to Britain and ended up ceding Hong Kong for a period of 99 years. Hong Kong remained a British colony until
1997, when Britain gave it back to China, under a special agreement. It was called “One Country, Two Systems.” It made Hong Kong a part of China, but it
also said that Hong Kong would retain “a high degree of autonomy,” as well as democratic
freedoms like the right to vote, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, of assembly. And that made Hong Kong very different from
mainland China, which is authoritarian: Citizens there don’t have the same freedoms. Its legal system is often used to arrest,
punish, and silence people who speak out against the state. But according to the agreement, One Country,
Two Systems wouldn’t last forever. In 2047, Hong Kong is expected to fully become
a part of China. The problem is, China isn’t waiting
for the deal to expire. Under the rule of Chinese leader Xi Jinping,
pro-democracy leaders have already been arrested in Hong Kong. And mysterious abductions of booksellers have
created a threat to free speech. But Hong Kong has been pushing back. In 2003, half a million Hongkongers successfully
fought legislation that would have punished speaking out against China. And in 2014, tens of thousands of protesters occupied the city for weeks to protest China’s influence over Hong Kong’s elections. Now, Hong Kongers are fighting the extradition
bill, because the bill is widely seen as the next
step in China’s encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy. The sheer size of these protests shows you
just how much opposition there is to this bill. But if Hong Kong’s legislature votes on
the bill, it’ll probably pass. And that’s because of the unique nature
of Hong Kong’s democracy. For starters, Hong Kong’s people don’t
vote for their leader. The Chief Executive is selected by
a small committee and approved by China. And even though they’re the head of the
government, they don’t make the laws. That happens here. Like many democracies, Hong Kong has a legislature,
with democratically elected representatives. It’s called the Legislative Council, or
LegCo, and it has 70 seats. Within this system, Hong Kong has many political
parties, but they are mostly either pro-democracy or pro-China. In every election, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy
and anti-establishment parties have won the popular vote. But they occupy less than half of the seats
in the LegCo. This is because when Hong Kongers vote, they’re
only voting for these 40 of the 70 seats. The other 30 are chosen by the various business communities of Hong Kong. For example, one seat belongs to the finance
industry. One seat belongs to the medical industry. One belongs to the insurance industry. And so on. Many of these 30 seats are voted on by
corporations. And because big business has an incentive
to be friendly with China, those seats are dominated by pro-China political parties. When Hong Kong was handed over to China in
1997, Hong Kong and China made an agreement that eventually, all members of the council
would be elected by the people. But that never happened. And ever since the handoff, pro-China parties
have controlled the LegCo, despite having never won more than 50 percent of the popular
vote. The way it’s structured, they want to make
sure that the executive branch can have easy control over it. And that would serve Beijing very well indeed. Within this unique structure, the extradition
bill has created new tensions and fueled anger among pro-democracy politicians. And it’s driven hundreds of thousands of
Hong Kongers into the streets. While this isn’t Hong Kong’s first protest
against China’s influence, it is the biggest. And many say this time is different, because of the people involved. Professionals like lawyers and politicians are participating. Our legal sector staged their biggest ever protest parade. But it’s young people who are at the forefront,
since they have the most to lose. They are the first generation born under One
Country Two Systems. And in 28 years when that arrangement ends,
they’ll be Hong Kong’s professional class. I won’t be around anymore. It’s their future. It’s their Hong Kong. They have every
right to fight it. The protests have convinced Hong Kong’s
government to suspend the bill. But that’s not enough. Many want the bill withdrawn completely. That’s because these protests are also part
of a larger fight. To push back against China’s encroachment
now, not just when time’s up. 2047 is on its way. But it’s not here yet. And until then, Hongkongers still have a voice. History will tell whether we succeed, but even if we failed, history would say they did put up a fight and they didn’t just take things lying down. And that’s what we’re trying to do too.

Comments

  1. Post
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    Vox

    UPDATE 8/22/19: Last weekend saw the largest peaceful march in Hong Kong since the start of the protests. Organizers say roughly 1.7 million people marched on the streets of Hong Kong.

    Vox's daily podcast, Today, Explained, breaks down the situation and its most recent developments:

    👉 Listen on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3pXx5SXzXwJxnf4A5pWN2A

    👉 Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://applepodcasts.com/todayexplained

    👉 Listen on Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/today-explained/e/63398553

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    crystal

    s o many people in the comments don't even know what is going on and are just hating on china and its government
    what is this ignorance

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    smol peach

    hongkong ay parang isarael ,namulat sila sa pamumuhay na demokratiko ,ang mga BATA AY NAMULAT SA MUNDO NG DEMOKRASYA.KAHIT SA BIEJING MAY MALAKING GROPPO NA MATAGAL NA RING MAGKAROON NG DEMOKRASYA.

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    Sewon Hong

    Hong Kong people don't want to be Chinese citizen, but Hong Kong government want it to be a part of China? << Is this it?

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    Adrian Soh

    Been to Hong Kong, mostly rude and pissy folks. Been to the mainland, people growing in culture, technology, etc, but most importantly, much less pissy folks. So I hope, they bring in the military and slap em sone sense. HK is the spoilt little brother that has been used to taking and taking, who you no longer can talk sense to. So, is the “great experiment” of the so called democracy working? Just your common pissy HK folks being used by folks with agenda to profit from what anarchy may bring.

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    joão brito

    let`s hope that before 2047 a true democracy is stablished in china as a whole , THOSE protests show it is possible, but high tech info is the way all other chinese will know they can protest too

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    Aliandrin

    Hong Kong should just make it a crime (in Hong Kong!) to murder one of their citizens.
    Then the next time someone tried that, they could be punished.

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    thulomanchay

    I bet the Chinese government regret implementing the "One Country, Two System" policy.
    On hindsight, they should have proclaim on midnight 1 July 1997 that Hong Kong is returned to China and remove the border crossings, like the Berlin Wall.
    Now I guess it will be 2047, that they'll do that.

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    mark anthony sentes

    One way or another , there will be good and worse effect caused by this murder. If Other countries start to join in and help, that would spark the WW3.
    Some people can smell it. Hmn

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    Yeam Lam DIo

    So much has happened in HongKong.CCP‘s attitude to the HongKong has changed a lot too. CCP:Let this city be, show me what you got in the following years.

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    БУ Налоговик

    the further Vox manipulation video….and who can be blamed for that business community votes in LegCo create a pro-China part?

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    Jakline Jozline

    Les quartiers nord de marseille ont rejoint les gilets jaunes ce samedi ca va s etendre sur tte la france policiers reflechissez

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    Regen Donal

    Nhân dân hồng kông và dân đài loan đều không muốn cstq cai trị. Họ muốn tự do dân chủ nhân quyền

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    Mod Man

    2049
    China has absorbed Hong Kong under its totalitarian rule. The country's dominance fueled by production and trade only grows. Consumerism has taken its toll and almost all natural wildlife is extinct. Construction of extensive underground cities is underway as the surface becomes increasingly uninhabitable. Air pollution from traffic, factories, and deforestation have made the air toxic in many regions. The Lost Amazon is now a prosperous city scape, like all the others. Only without the rainforest the air is dry and poisonous, what little rain there burns with acid. The oceans bubble as well, with a frothy foam of plastic, death, and a soup of genetically engineered microorganisms desperately trying to eat up the mess. Coral reefs have become skeletal graves, the water still and empty. All the color is drained from the sea, like an oil painting left in the rain. Ice only exists regularly in the glasses of those fortunate to still be successful in this time of extinction, drinking to the end that they created.
    2050
    No Future

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    roundsout155

    That would be great we should make them part of the United States and back them hundred percent I know this boarders on the fringes of War ! But War is going to happen anyways ! China doesn't dare make a move on Hong Kong because it knows it'll be condemned by the world Trump is smart there's a lot more thought goes into a strategy than you think ! So I say welcome Hong Kong ! 2A,3%,OATHKEEPERS ALL THE WAY !

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    Mashal Khan

    TWO QUESTIONS.

    1) Why would the extradition agreement with Taiwan also allow the extradition to China?

    2) If by 2047 Hong Kong is to become a part of China, then what's the point of these uprisings? I mean just after 28 years, Hong Kong will become China anyways.

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    Matthew Cao

    I’m still not quite sure what the extradition bill is, does it mean China simply gets the right to try prisoners that are in Hong Kong (keep in mind I do understand the violation of HKs semi autonomous standing)

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    sonia jayanthi

    So Hongkong doesn't want to be one with China because China have an outhoritarian system which will take away the freedom and democracy Hongkong. Why did China try so hard to take Hongkong back? It's just a small land compared to the mainland China. The citizens don't even want to bow to china. Why not just let them go? Why don't China just take care of the poverty and overcrowding in their country instead off adding more people in it?

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    Richard Alcala

    When you get a taste freedom and freedom of speech it becomes like a natural necessity in life that you are willing to fight for it, this is what the totalitarian radical left doesn't want you to see.

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    Invader Zim

    A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.

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    Y.L

    Meanwhile the UK is destroying democracy by not leaving the EU almost 4 years on from the biggest democratic exercise ever performed. 17.4 Million people voted to leave the EU and the rights of these people are betrayed, the will of people are not respected. Implement a clean break Brexit before criticising Chinese government.

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    agent _k

    Funny how Vox has a problem with conservatism until it comes down to how it effects certain peoples. I'm pretty sure this is the only case where Vox supports limiting a government power. Amazing what freedom can show in an observable situation, isn't it?

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    Ke Aka

    Listen to the peop;e of Hong Kong, they refer to PRC as Chinese. Don't blame them. I stand behind the people of Hong Kong. They should have full independence

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    C L

    I suggest who feel sorry for HK protests take them to your country and accept them as refugees,especially UK.
    Just using your mouths online is not enough and all of you should show your empathy to these protests and take them to your country and then you can protect them.

    I support everyone to pursue democracy and freedoms ,but I hate rioters.

    Since you feel sorry for them ,just save them and take them to your country because you think this is the truth.

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    MrWHS001

    What could possibly be wrong with the police to hand over the murderer who then apparently fled to HK for refuge. No treaty is required. The police should be able to hand over this murderer with proof of evidence by China treaty or no treaty. That would placate the massages and is a common sense move a win win for all.
    By all means let the protesting continue for the sake of a real democracy to develop until the fifty years has expired for the turnover to Mainland China.

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    classic moment

    tell you a truth, youtube cheats you by pushing you the video you want to see, log off and log in use different account, you will see liars on two extremes

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    Yb Chen

    The murderer Chen Tongjia will thank the Hongkong foolish protesters. And what a pity of the pregnant victim and her family. Foolish Hongkong foolish protesters who are easily fooled by the opposition party breaking the true democracy in Hongkong.

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    C Chan

    The Hong-Kong (HK)government Carrie Lam hired triads, rogues and mercenaries from China working with police teams, they were mix inside protesters creating violence, chasing using excessive weapons pushing HK citizen and protesters inside the railway station(trapping them in MTR. Stopping reporters and the rescue team going into the station) beating on their heads, spray and shooting tear gas in to their face, murdering them. The truth and the fact what were happening on Saturday 31-8-2019 of Prince station with daily basic of CCTV (closed-circuit television) records be hidden and concealing the truth done by HK MTR and local hospital under the command of the police, also an artificial make more violent by putting up fire. The youngest protesters and HK citizen would like to resolve and have justice, of the reason of that station destroyed and made it closed and trapped by the police. The five demands need to be met immediately, which are to withdraw the bill, for the leader Carrie Lam to step down, an enquiry to police brutality, for those who have been incorrectly arrested to be released and greater democratic freedoms. All need to be met and not just one.光復香港 時代革命 五大訴求 缺一不可 還回香港自由 民主 人權 和平 必須以和理非態度 求人不如求己 懂得(有)爭取才有希望 香港人加油 加油 海外僑胞支持您們 保護好自己和身邊的人 加油加油

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    Ang Teck Huat

    Yes, destroy HK to build a better tomorrow. Only if tomorrow could really be better.

    What I envisage – a very free but very poor HK – those with options will leave for greener pastures overseas, those without options will remain poor and behind. More will be living on the streets, more will be without jobs, more will have to go overseas to eke out a living.
    Hope I am wrong.

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    Doogie Chen

    CCP China already detention many Canadians , Australian citizens and more than 1000 international citizens without trials ( China's law allow arrested people whom against CCP China. for 365days ). So images you speaking out against CCP, then you travel to Hong Kong being arrested and send to China's prison for nearly one year without trials.. Will you accept this type of law??.

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    Sue Smith

    Bravo to the people of H K…………Canadians would have fell with the first tear gas bomb…….prove me wrong Canadians………our turn to fight for freedom is here

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    will yang

    If you believe these Hong Kong kids now have a solution for HK, you must be high. These are elementary and high school schoolers protesting and smashing subway stations day in and day out in HK, occasionally, they will beat up people on the street. Don’t just take my words for it, there are tons of amateur videos online. And you expect them to understand what democracy and freedom means?

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    Sy Fan

    After watching this mess since June, I finally realize that the extradition law is only an excuse. The goal of the small number of paid rioters(a few thousands) is to arouse a big crowd to do so called "peaceful protest" and then turn it into a riot in order to get international attention. The number of people in the crowd dropped dramatically after the rioters started the violence. Many people didn't join their violence but the rioters have already gotten the attention with the help of the one-sided western media. A lot of people get fooled by the manipulated videos on utube that intentionally hide the violence the rioters have done. The picture is very clear. The foreign governments have funded the anti-China anti-government groups to destroy the order of HK in order to overthrow the HK government and to attack China. HK is a more open city for outsiders so it is an easier target to manipulate than any other mainland cities. What a big drama!

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    MalkTea ッ

    Honestly, it seems like America is trying to help Hong Kong, but they’re just trying to win the trade war between them and China. Honestly, everything is really messed up

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