What Protests?


Sarah Neal

These articles and images show what is happening in Hong Kong (Photo courtesy of Sarah Neal).

Right now, Hong Kong is falling into chaos as the country goes into its 16th week of protests. After almost 112 days of violence and mayhem, still very few people have heard about it. 

BBC explains that this Chinese city has an interesting and complex history. From 1841 to 1997, Hong Kong was a British territory. Its government system still mirrors England’s. Hong Kong technically belongs to China but is independent in several different ways. The city has its own currency, political system, and culture. Most residents see themselves as Hong Kongers rather than Chinese. A policy known as Hong Kong Basic Law gives Hong Kongers certain rights that Chinese mainlanders do not have. Some of these rights are the right to protest, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech. In many ways, Hong Kong Basic Law mirrors the first amendment in the U.S. Constitution. Hong Kong and Chinese identities have always been distinct, and recent events have the Chinese Communist Party feeling threatened. 

When the protests first started, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam wasn’t going to repeal the controversial extradition bill that sparked the protests. Vox explained that this bill could send Hong Kong residents to mainland China to be tried in court. This bill was created to prevent fugitives from using Hong Kong as a place to escape authorities. Lam said that she would suspend the bill. In response, protesters are demanding the withdrawal of the bill and for Lam’s removal. 

So, what exactly is happening?

At the moment, Hong Kong is facing a major political crisis. According to The Washington Post, the Communist Party in China is about to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. The protesters are pro-democracy, and, while most of them are peaceful, some resort to violence. Protesters are getting angry because of recent accusations of police brutality. CNN said that the protesters started to get violent after a woman’s eye was injured resulting from clashes with the police that were trying to calm them down. The protests are getting extremely violent. The South China Morning Post informs the public that protesters are setting fires and throwing gasoline bombs, and authorities are responding by attacking protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets. 

“I feel that the police aren’t handling the protests responsibly. It seems they resort to violence and aggression to calm down the protesters, which is not the answer,” said senior Reece Belt.

Even though Hong Kong is in flames, there is still very little media coverage. On social media, I asked 73 people if they had heard about the protests in Hong Kong. Only 44% had seen or heard about them. In a generation that lives on social media, so many people still haven’t heard about the three-month riot. 

Sarah Neal
This Instagram poll shows how many people know about the protests in Hong Kong (Photo courtesy of Sarah Neal).

“I heard about the protests on the news, and I saw them on Instagram and Snapchat,” junior Bennett Nix told the Bengal Beat. “I wish [the protests] were being covered more by the media. I’ve only seen coverage on Twitter and Reddit,” added junior Connor McAbee.

“I’d hope that a peaceful diplomacy of any sort could be implemented to benefit both the people of Hong Kong and the government. Countries of influence should attempt to solve this crisis,” added Belt.

Thousands of Hong Kongers are rioting. Police are resorting to violence and Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s career is in jeopardy. Hong Kong is being torn into pieces, and people are still unaware of what the protesters are fighting for. If more people were aware of the mayhem in Hong Kong, then it wouldn’t be as big of a problem. Media coverage matters, no matter what the event.