Hong Kong’s huge protests, explained

Posted By on August 16, 2019


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.

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 100 comments

  1. UPDATE 8/13/2019: Hong Kong's protests have escalated with canceled flights and police standoffs at Hong Kong's international airport. Read more: http://bit.ly/2OUZNB4

    Reply
  2. The Chinese President had better tread very carefully with Hong Kong, or the almost unimaginably wealthy Chinese with deep Hong Kong ties will remove him from office, and shortly after he will not be seen or heard from again.

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  3. 我是对这个不是很认可,他们问的全是反抗者,那么请问能不能去问一下市民怎么想的,他们打伤了多少中国内陆的人,那些反抗者堵着机场不给别人走,给一些无辜的人造成了多大的影响,你们原本为了自由,但是你们看起来就像暴徒一样,只会砸车打人影响别人的生活,打了香港警察,需要求助的时候就叫香港警察,警察没来就说没用,那些暴徒真可笑,警察都被你们打晕了。

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  4. Hong Kong returning China in 1997 didn’t only make Hong Kong a part of China since then, Hong Kong has always been a part of China.

    You can keep talking about how people just “go on to street” to protest but you never talk about the violence this has created and the damage Hongkongers have caused to themselves.

    Nobody can beat up another person in public space legally. Criminals should not be tolerated.

    Bullying people who hold different political agenda is not what democracy. Hong Kong does not have democracy right now and it is not because of the system.

    Rioters in Hong Kong do not stand for democracy, they are trampling democracy.

    I love China and that’s freaking amazing.

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  5. Wait what is happening to the man who killed his wife? He should be charged in Taiwan, and if he killed her in China he should be charged in China, right?

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  6. Democracy and freedom are empty words. Liberal capitalism is failing. The United States is a sham. The real beauty of all this stupidity is that liberal capitalism needs China's communism to maintain itself. And there's no going back, baby!!!

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  7. China gave Hong Kong autonomy, the police are British, the judges are British, this terrorist activity was contacted by the us embassy, you can say who caused this result

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  8. Why cover your face if you are marching in a fair and square way? These people are attacking the police at the Hong Kong airport, taking hostages, beating hostages and blocking medical treatment

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  9. Hong Kong is rules by British for almost 100 years with no election and so call democracy ? But yet China is allowing them to protest and even occupying Airport . Who is more democracy and respect Human Rights ?

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  10. Mainland China once again reneged on their agreement to “Universal Suffrage” where the people of HK would vote and chose all the members of LegIslative Council. The young people of Hong Kong must continue to fight for their Democracy and guarantee their right to determine their future and the future of their children. Stay strong Hong Kong, the world is watching China and the EU and US along with the UN will condemn them and impose economic sanctions should they move the people’s army from Shenzhen into HK. Thank you Claudia Mo for your service to the people of HK, you are a true champion of human rights and justice.

    Reply
  11. Trashcan lids and baseball bats, phalanx formations and move forward. They have the guns but you have the numbers and the media. Show the world what a violent regime China is

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  12. This is a riot that can not be accepted by any government in the world. Check out police reactions to the riots in London, Paris etc. People are paid to go on the street. They are jobless anyway. What a shame on HK. And western media like BBC, ABC are promoting the violence under the name of democracy. It tells again that the only thing heard from the news you might trust is the weather forecast…

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  13. 一帮暴徒!希望我大中国早日安宁稳定!希望我大中国在关键时刻出手灭了这帮扰乱社会稳定的暴徒!

    Reply
  14. Showing people's faces is putting them at risk. I except no mistake so big from a big news channel like yours Vox you have a big responsibility. They fight to protest too against China's recognition technology, you showing a bunch of faces is very dangerous for all of the citizens' life !

    Reply
  15. Personally speaking, I love China, but if liberty is what HK citizen want, I can't make decision for them.
    I hope they can think carefully about the future after their liberty.They are young and maybe they are risking their future for someone doesn't worth it.

    Reply
  16. There are two sides for and against this issue. Could you interview the opinions of those who support it and those who oppose it? In this way, the whole issue can be reflected neutrally and readers can judge freely?

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  17. I don't understand it, If Hong Kong is been an independent place, I was super wondering how Hong Kong is going to protect them self????

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  18. Why do people criticize these people? Imagine…this is just like What America did when England got independence from the UK. This is no different just done in a different way.

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  19. What an experiment by Britain, engineering this ' one country two systems' scenario they would see how China deal with this. An experiment to see Democracy vs Communism

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  20. there is not the futue, there is that hey have not future, having the babarian teachers how the youth have future , the students always behind the cyber reality their teacher also too

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  21. One murder can escape the law? What if your son be killed ? Will you fight? HK government is doing the right things.the students who be used is foolish.what they fight for? Fight for a murder who killed his girlfriend ?? What a funny thing!

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  22. Hk students honestly ask yourself,ask you grandma,grandpa,HK during UK rule ,what do they have? Why you fight with your people?

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  23. Hong Kong is part of China,i support Hong Kong police,why don't Hong Kong'S Protests condemn the killers first,and it's not polices's fault,not civilian's fault,hit reporter,stop flight,it's not freedom absolutely.

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  24. The reality is, however, a bad one for HK, like in Chinese History, most of these protests are called "riots" that the Chinese government had rightfully calmed…

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  25. 有名有姓都開始走了!無名無姓嘅自己想😂

    李柱銘,黎智英在那兒?黃之峰尋日走左去台灣,羅冠聰兩日前去左美國讀書,毛孟靜話行開10日娶新抱,連郭榮鏗同楊岳橋都去左美國,還有何穩屎已哩埋台灣,人人喊松啦,藉口個個都走,淨返班信徒繼續搞,期待武警來捕捉的鏡頭,點解呢班人甘無義氣呢?唔系好大聲甘講核爆都唔割席咩?

    (請廣傳)

    Reply
  26. There is nothing wrong with the purpose, but the method is wrong.
    There is no difference between current behavior and terrorists.

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  27. Be careful guys, when Obama tried to enforce democracy to Libya, Libya becomes a terrorist heaven, not all nations work well under democracy, sometimes it becomes mob rule.

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  28. I see only opinions of the opposiiton. You won't get the real deal from this alone. Go hear more voices, from both angles, more angles. And see more facts, not just those filtered by media in dominant place. It's the least you can do.

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  29. Most Ppl of HK spend a lot of energy to do many demonstration and they do it with classy, clean, smart. I hope none injured, end with peace also tourist all around d world can visit HK again..

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  30. In a place like Hong Kong where the future seems bad, The people of Hong Kong proved that together, they can make change.

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  31. Can the Chinese government intervene the laws?I have never heard it.
    And China is not a typical democracy country, Hongkong is democratic enough as a part of China. If the democracy is absolutely correct and must be in the same form, why the people and army don't revolt in China, why the Chinese economy has developed

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  32. 我能理解为有两百万香港人支持一个残忍的杀人犯,逃避法律制裁嘛?陈同佳只要不再踏入台湾,便可以享受伟大的自由民主!但有些人再也不能回港,回家!

    Reply
  33. imagine sparking one the biggest protests in the country, possibly maybe even starting a revolution just because you didn't want to have a baby

    Reply
  34. 港独份子,你们没有好下场,什么是民主,你们只认为自己是对的,其实什么政策,什么制度,只要是对人民好的,接受不好吗?

    Reply
  35. good video. i just realized exactly why they are protesting. i think it all started to happen in 1997 when great Britain give back British Hong Kongese back to china not Hong Kongese

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  36. I am a Chinese, I am very sad to see such things, I don't understand what we did wrong, before we all lived in peace, but with the emergence of Taiwan independence and Hong Kong independence, this peace was broken, now we only hope to calm down this situation, and hope the Hong Kong police can be safe

    Reply

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