Hong Kong is in a massed state of shock, fear, and panic as police crackdown on massive protests a substantial portion of the pseudo city-state’s roughly 7 million citizens took to the streets to participate in. The massive violent clash for control of the city center is the worst violence Hong Kong has seen since 1997.
The protests, in which thousands upon thousands of despondent citizens took to the streets in an effort to blockade access to the government headquarters in downtown Hong-Kong were initially peaceful.
However, things turned for the worst when escalating tension finally broke out into open violence as protestors attempted to occupy government buildings and police utilized everything from tear gas to rubber bullets to high powered hoses to clear them off the streets in large violent clashes at the behest of a regime most residents lambast to be a puppet of the mainland. The BBC reports from the ground of the former British colony,
“Authorities have shut some government offices in Hong Kong’s financial district after the worst violence the city has seen in decades.
By Thursday morning the crowds had largely dispersed around government headquarters – where police and protesters had pitched battles on Wednesday.
The protesters are angry about plans to allow extradition to mainland China. Despite the widespread opposition, the government has not backed down.
However, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) delayed a second reading of the controversial extradition bill and it is unclear when it will take place.
The second reading, or debate over the extradition bill was originally scheduled for Wednesday. In an attempt to prevent lawmakers from participating in the debate, activists in the tens of thousands blockaded key streets around the government headquarters in central Hong Kong. Police were also out in riot gear.
Later the tensions boiled over as protesters tried to storm key government buildings demanding the bill be scrapped. Police responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets to block them and get them to disperse. After hours of chaos, the crowd eventually dissipated overnight.
Rights group Human Rights Watch accused the police of using “excessive force” against protesters.
Seventy-two people aged between 15 and 66 were injured in the violence, including two men who were in critical condition.
After the violence on Wednesday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam called the protests “organised riots”, and dismissed accusations that she had “sold out” Hong Kong.
A Betrayal to The Communist Mainland?
The massed demonstrations were ignited due to their government, helmed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, moving forward with the institution of new laws that would allow mainland China to demand the extradition of detained Hong King citizens to the mainland.
This was something long barred thanks to the treaty made when Britain turned the colony over to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. The treaty between the UK and China had established a state of semi-autonomy for Hong Kong in exchange for its surrender using a policy the mainland regime has long referred to as ‘One Country Two Systems.’
While Hong Kong is now Chinese territory, its people have – thanks to this system – long enjoyed a bevy of liberties those on the mainland do not, such as free speech and the right to assemble in protest. But now many residents of the economically vital city feel those rights are being eroded.
While Lam is a longtime resident of Hong Kong, most citizens consider her to be a puppet under the thumb of the communist regime founded by Mao Zedong on the mainland. This inherent mistrust of their government combined with the adoption of legislation widely seen as a surrender of the city’s freedoms to China has resulted in countless citizens of all backgrounds, from students to striking workers to seniors, taking to the streets in a last-ditch effort to fight for their rights.
Ms. Lam’s government has backed the bill, which is also (unsurprisingly) enthusiastically supported by China. The Hong Kong government has assured detractors there will be legally binding human rights safeguards, but the people of the city clearly aren’t satisfied with the assurances that their autonomy will be maintained.
Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) has delayed a second reading due to the mass unrest, but the bill is expected to pass on a final vote on June 20th and there is an expectation of more massed protests and dissent when that comes to be.
With both sides fully expecting an even greater outburst come the date of the bill’s passage, there is a very real possibility this is only the beginning of a prolonged, potentially violent struggle for the future of the ‘Pearl of the Orient.’
Editor’s note: Hong Kong is on its own here. China appears intent on bringing Hong Kong to heel, and no country, not even Britain, will stand up to help it. We see from China ferocity in claiming Taiwan, which they have no right to, that China is emotional in defending its territories. I believe any outside interference with Hong Kong would incite direct military action from the Chinese.