A Violent Escalation in Hong Kong

Residents of Hong Kong protest in the streets.

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Residents of Hong Kong protest in the streets.

Mason Barish, Staff Writers

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When the Hong Kong government planned on passing the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill, they weren’t expecting one of the biggest rises to protest in the last decade. Hong Kong is considered a part of China, but many residents believe it to be an autonomous country rather than a subjugate to the mainland. These protests have been a source of high tension between the citizens and authorities of Hong Kong for the past few months. Police officers have used more extreme tactics to counter-protesting, and those tactics have only escalated in severity.

First and foremost, the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill was planned to allow Hong Kong to extradite fugitives to other countries in order to be charged in their legal courts, these countries included Taiwan, mainland China, and Macau. The reason this was important was that those living in Hong Kong were worried about China’s involvement with the creation of the bill and they didn’t want Beijing overstepping boundaries and affecting Hong Kong’s separate legal system. Fearing that China was getting more involved with their democracy than necessary, protesters took to the streets.

Originally, police were using tear gas and rubber bullets to try and quell protests, but now allegations have come out saying that the police officers have used excessive force. Examples of these accusations include but are not limited to using a protester as a human shield, denying first aid to those wounded, confronting someone alone without their legal help, such as a lawyer or representative, and going undercover as a protester in order to attack actual protesters. Just recently, the first report of an injury from a bullet was released, in which police fired at a student who joined in on the large scale activism.

These protests have affected the entire country. The economy has been altered, as certain companies and shops either benefit from these protests or are boycotted due to a pro-police view. Properties and housing near protest locations have seen a drop in price due to them now being seen as undesirable. The government was unable to pass the bill or act on it due to the protest being at such a large scale, which led to it being discarded as a result of protester opposition. Lastly, education was brought to a standstill when nearly thousands of university students went out to join the protests against the bill in early September. The bill was withdrawn within a week of that showing.

Looking at the protest itself and who is involved, many see the protests as one movement with two subgroups of protesters. On one hand, there are nonviolent protesters who peacefully chant to get their point across, and on the other hand, there are protesters that directly act, sometimes out of line, against the police. The latter are the ones that the government defines as rioters and can be seen committing real crimes like arson or looting against those who support China and the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill.

Though the main goal of the activists has been accomplished and the bill has been retired, the organizers of these events believe there is still much to be done in the name of those who have been put into jail or abused by the authorities. Time will tell what is to be accomplished by either side of this conflict, and how Hong Kong will be affected in the long term.