Hong Kong, a nation off the coast of China, was leased to Great Britain by the Chinese Qing dynasty in 1898 following the Second Opium War. That lease ended in 1997 after Hong Kong obtained guarantees to preserve its systems, freedoms and way of life for at least 50 years.
The yellow umbrella revolution in 2014 took place in Hong Kong as a means of resistance to Chinese tear gas and pepper spray and as a petition to be able to protest their right for more transparent elections. Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents flooded the streets for the 79-day strike waving umbrellas, and up until this year there have been peaceful protests with the umbrellas according to an article in The Guardian.
The “Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019” was intended by China to extradite criminal suspects from Hong Kong to mainland China’s jurisdiction. This was seen as an infringement on the sovereignty of Hong Kong. This bill sparked a series of protests that lives on today. Of the population of 7 million living in Hong Kong, between 2 and 5 million people marched in the streets according to an article from the BBC.
The Hong Kong Police Force, known to protesters as “Black Police,” have been consistently documented in using excessive force. The Facebook page “Boston Stand with Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” made posts on Nov. 12 from the location of the Chinese University of Hong Kong with cries for help .
“SOS please do something; they are killing college kids NOW. Headmaster of Chinese University got teargas shot, and the assistant headmaster is in the front line with thousands of students,” the Tuesday Facebook post read. “The police are trying to get to the biggest server in HK, so they can control and to cut off international media connection. HELP!”
The conflict turned bloody on the 12th with initial numbers at 60 university students injured and one confirmed death. This week, Hong Kong police forces continue to encroach on protesters at the Polytechnic University. The police have stated the city has nearly fallen out of complete order and blames the protesters, according to The Guardian.
With these events happening so recently, the international community has not had the opportunity to respond, but an NPR report stated that officials in China were admonishing British political agents for providing help to the protesters. Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted in October saying “Fight for Freedom. Stand for Hong Kong.”
China responded negatively to the tweet and threatened an embargo of the NBA. According to a report from CNBC former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, China’s heavy-handed response to an NBA general manager’s comments on the turbulent protests in Hong Kong represents a violation of U.S. sovereignty.
“When China says to the NBA, ‘Your general manager cannot say something about what’s going on in Hong Kong,’ now that’s a violation of American sovereignty because Americans have the right to say what they please,” Rice said.
In a report from NBC news, protesters at the Chinese university have stockpiled bricks and petrol bombs on bridges and other approaches.
“It’s crazy that police have been firing tear gas for more than 20 minutes. If they didn’t come in, we wouldn’t clash with them. It’s our school. We need to protect our home,” said student Candy, 20, in an interview with Reuters.
It is clear the world is watching, but will the international community step in? That remains to be seen, but any person who is moved by the plight of these people fighting for freedom is encouraged to contact their politicians, their newscasters and send aid when able.