The first protest of the recent Hong Kong protests was on March 31, 2019. There were more than 12,000 demonstrators and they were closely watched by 5,200 Hong Kong police officers. In June, more than one million citizens joined the protest however, the police in Hong Kong considered the demonstrations as a ‘riot’ and they used excessive teargas on the demonstrators. Finally, in September, the repatriation law was revoked, but no specific terms of the demonstrators were accepted. So, the protests continue still.
- Why did this happen?
The demonstration started with a murder case that took place in Taiwan in February of 2018. A Hong Kong man who went on a trip to Taiwan killed his girlfriend and returned to Hong Kong after abandoning the body of his girlfriend in Taiwan. During the course of their investigations, Hong Kong police had a tough time punishing him after they arrested him. Following this incident, the Hong Kong government planned to pursue a ‘repatriation law’ on April 3, 2019. If the bill is put forward, the law could be abused by the Chinese government to repatriate dissidents and human rights activists to the mainland. That is why Hong Kong began to protest. The bill would end the practice of receiving democratic human rights guaranteed under one country, two systems.
- Why citizens oppose the Hong Kong government
The protesters demand five main requirements. (1) Withdrawing an official return of repatriation law (2) Independent investigations into police crackdowns (3) Withdrawal of the definition as riot (4) Unconditional release and non-prosecution of participants in arrested protests (5) A direct election of the Minister of Administrative Affairs shall be conducted. A number of international and social experts have said that the reason for the long-running protest in Hong Kong was the citizens have too much dissatisfaction with pro-China Hong Kong Government. Because of the Communist Party’s constant political intervention after Britain’s return to Hong Kong and the massive influx of Chinese capital, prices have skyrocketed, and land prices have become expensive. The way the government treats the protest raises many concerns, particularly remembering the case of the ‘Tiananmen Square Massacre’ on June 4, 1989.
- Impact of Hong Kong Protests
The prolonged demonstrations are bad for Hong Kong’s society. Some of Hong Kong’s main industries, tourism and finance, have been hit hard. In the wake of the massive air travel crisis that erupted when protesters occupied Hong Kong International Airport in 2019, tourists have decreased as they did during the global financial crisis. In the United States, the House of Representatives has unanimously passed a Human Rights and Democracy Act in Hong Kong that restricts U.S. visas to those responsible for curbing Hong Kong’s basic freedoms. It has also reduced not only Chinese capital but also foreign capital including Korean capital. Korea is already struggling due to a plunge in semiconductor prices, a blow to exports, and Japan’s restrictions on imports. The impact of disruptions in Hong Kong could be another blow to Korean companies. Instead of simply thinking of the Hong Kong protests as their issues, we need to pay more attention to the Asian democratic issue.