The latest series of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have significant challenges to face in the new decade. The direct cause of the protests was the now-withdrawn extradition bill proposed in early 2019, which would have allowed extraditions from the semi-autonomous territory to China.
Since June, new demands arose throughout the months as the Chinese government and the Hong Kong police began to erode civil liberties and use excessive force. Throughout the latter half of last year, the protests received much coverage and support from people across the political aisle.
November brought victories for the pro-democracy movement against the Hong Kong government supported by the Chinese Communist Party. The pro-democracy faction gained control of the District Council after the election by the as well as international support with the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by the American government. Even with the victories achieved, the pro-democracy forces continued to pursue the unmet demands into the new decade.
December continued with more protests and clashes with the Hong Kong police. One major protest occurred on December 22; approximately 1,000 demonstrators clashed with the police as they rallied in support of the Uighur Muslim minority. As one speaker pointed out, both groups share a common goal, the “struggle for freedom and democracy and the rage against the Chinese Communist Party.” During the holiday season, the protesters began strategically targeting shopping malls as well as mainland shoppers in hopes of accomplishing several goals. The main goal was to pressure the government by disrupting the local economy to pursue the demands.
On New Year’s day, an initially peaceful march became violent within a matter of hours. Hours earlier, Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, addressed the territory by calling to “restore order and harmony to society” in 2020. The January 1 protest—which reportedly had over a million participants—was planned as a way to maintain the movement’s momentum. The conflict by both factions ended with over 400 protesters arrested between the ages of 12 and 81.
By the end of that month, the first case of the coronavirus would arrived in Hong Kong, a role a population carries memories of the 2003 SARS outbreak.
Since February, the people of Hong Kong have sought new methods due to the threat of COVID-19 and the regulations placed by the government to prevent the spread. The only major physical protests have been against the uncoordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In late March, the government of Hong Kong implemented a regulation that banned public gatherings of groups greater than four, which stoked fears of crackdowns on political dissent. On March 31, the police dispersed, subdued, and detained protesters gathered outside the Prince Edward subway station to commemorate an event that occurred in the same place seven months ago. The pandemic has required the pro-democracy movement to turn to alternate solutions, including social media campaigns and online petitions.
Hong Kong democracy protester Joshua Wong used the popular video game “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” to protest the government by placing a banner on his island that read “Free Hong Kong, revolution now.” The Chinese government responded by banning the sale of the game, as it has with many others that don’t fit core socialist values.
The latest development occurred on April 19, when the Hong Kong police arrested at least 14 pro-democracy activists on charges of joining massive anti-government protests. Once again, it appears that the Chinese Communist Party and the Hong Kong Government have used the coronavirus pandemic to crackdown on the pro-government movement. These arrests brought condemnation from the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom.
In a statement by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he said: “Beijing and its representatives in Hong Kong continue to take actions inconsistent with commitments made under the Sino-British Joint Declaration that include transparency, the rule of law, and guarantees that Hong Kong will continue to ‘enjoy a high degree of autonomy.’”
While the Chinese Communist Party continues to have influence over the Hong Kong police and the Chief Executive, the pro-democracy movement of Hong Kong will continue. Even with the political shift in Hong Kong back in November, Xi Jinping, the CCP, and the pro-Beijing Hong Kongers have continued to crack down on the movement. The pro-democracy movement is currently facing a new phase in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, yet the struggle for a free Hong Kong still continues.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.