Anti-Government Protests In Hong Kong

Hong Kong reached a political crossroad after months of widespread protests over a proposed extradition bill, which raise more fundamental questions about its relationship with mainland China. Since 1997, when it was handed back to China after 156 years of British rule, it has enjoyed a special status governed by the principle of “One Country, Two Systems.” The arrangement gave Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy over domestic affairs, retaining its independent judiciary, rule of law, free trade and free speech. However, its political candidates must be vetted by Beijing, and in the years since the handover, increased Chinese influence has become a major source of tension. In 2014, hundreds of thousands of protesters occupied the central business district for more than thee months calling on changes to the electoral system, in what was dubbed the “Umbrella Movement.” With the proposal of the new extradition bill, many Hong Kongers see this as another step by China to assert control and have taken to the streets once again. Faced with the backlash, Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, has insisted the bill is “dead,” but protesters have continued weekly rallies and demanded Lam’s resignation. As protests continue to gather momentum, where they will lead is still unknown – calls for full independence remain scarce – but recent rumblings from China’s military suggest a sustained political storm.