Hong Kong Protests

Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash

In recent months, massive protests have been occurring in Hong Kong, mainly due to backlash to an extradition bill. This issue, while different in many aspects could be seen as similar to many issues prevalent at CHS, such as climate change or gun control, which have sparked protests at CHS including multiple walk-out. One similarity is the overwhelmingly young demographic of people who are fighting for it. Many protesters are similar in age, if not the same age as CHS students. In addition, in both cases, the government has been largely dismissive of the protests. In recent months, massive protests have been occurring in Hong Kong, mainly due to backlash to an extradition bill. This issue, while different in many aspects could be seen as similar to many issues prevalent at CHS, such as climate change or gun control, which have sparked protests at CHS including multiple walk-out. One similarity is the overwhelmingly young demographic of people who are fighting for it. Many protesters are similar in age, if not the same age as CHS students. In addition, in both cases, the government has been largely dismissive of the protests.

Earlier this year the government of Hong Kong made efforts to pass an extradition bill with China. From this stemmed widespread protests on a scale rarely ever seen and comparable to the scale of the recent climate walkout when over a million students worldwide walked out of class. It is also on par with the 2018 walkout when a similar amount of students walked out to advocate gun control. Following protests of over a million people and an occupation of the city’s airport and streets that brought the city to a halt, Prime Minister Carrie Lamb formally withdrew the extradition bill on September 4. 

While the original demand has now been met, protests have persisted, albeit on a slightly smaller scale. Where protesters once called solely for the withdrawal of the extradition bill, they are now demanding more independence from China. They also want inquisition into police brutality, an issue which is also very common in the U.S and faced by CHS students. In addition they want all protesters who have been arrested to be released and for Prime Minister Carrie Lamb to step down. 

This movement is most popular among young people, in fact many protesters are the same age as CHS students. Because of this, it seems possible that at least some of this discontent comes from the realization that at some point in the not so distant future, Hong Kong will be fully under Chinese control. At this point, the majority of Hong Kong citizens will live to see that day. This seems to be a possible culprit as to why the protesters are so adamant about expanding their democratic freedoms; for fear of when they are forced to live under Chinese law. 

This is almost an identical reason as to why issues like climate change and gun control appeal so greatly to young people. The realization that their generation is the one that will have to suffer from the repercussions of inaction, drives them to make a stand.

The Chinese government has been very resistant to all of the protesters demands and has shot them down. Before Carrie Lamb withdrew the extradition bill, the Chinese government had instructed her not to. They refuse to grant any extra democratic protections to Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong government has refused to release any arrested protesters or set up any sort of inquiry into police brutality.

In the case of CHS protests also very little action has been taken as a result, much like the Hong Kong protests. A reason for this is that for the most part, these issues have little impact on those in power as they will likely not live to see the consequences of their actions or are otherwise shielded from them.

The protests in Hong Kong now seem to have come to an impasse. The government refuses to yield any more than it already has, and the protests themselves seem to be on track to die out. There is not nearly as much enthusiasm as in the early summer, and they seem to not be making any more ground. Press coverage has lessened, and in doing so, it has limited awareness of the protests, something that is necessary for them to make any progress.

 A large problem is that most of what they want is not within reach, because the Hong Kong government cannot grant them more democratic freedoms, and the Chinese government won’t. Once again, a parallel can be drawn to activism at CHS, because what they want, the government either can’t or won’t give to them.

Tensions have recently become more and more violent. One anti-government protester was shot and a pro-government protestor was lit on fire. According to the BBC, the rule of law is on the brink of collapse with police resorting to tear gas in efforts to contain the massive protests. 

Also in recent news, several companies familiar to CHS students, such as Blizzard, Apple and the NBA have caved to China demands, in efforts to maintain their market share in the communist nation. Many have criticized these acts, saying these companies are turning their backs on Hong Kong.

“It is clearly a political decision to suppress freedom and human rights in Hong Kong,” said the developer of an app used to track Hong Kong police that apple removed.

With no clear end in sight, there is no telling how long this may drag on for. After months of standstill, it seems increasingly unlikely that anyone will concede or give any ground.

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Owen Moore is a Sophomore at Carrboro High School. He enjoys carpentry, biking, hunting and camping. Procrastination is a passion of his.
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