Hong Kong Protests: What's Going On And How Will It Affect Singapore?
We give you the low-down on what exactly has caused some of the largest protests to rock Hong Kong in decades.
Every day our news screens are filled with images of protesters lining the streets and the police and the governments attempts to control one of the most volatile situations in decades. So what exactly has caused this unrest? How did it happen, what does each side want and ultimately, how will it affect neighbouring countries? We give you the low-down below.
What caused the protests
As we all know, Hong Kong was a British colony for more than 150 years and when it was handed back to China in 1997, both sides had an agreement that Hong Kong was to be ruled as part of 'one country, two systems' for at least 50 years, meaning Hong Kong had its own legal system, freedom of speech and assembly away from China.
Over recent years, there have been grumblings that Beijing has been trying to integrate Hong Kong into China and therefore eroding Hong Kong's unique identity. This isn't the first time that problems have arisen either, with Hong Kong booksellers being imprisoned in 2015 for selling books unflattering of the Chinese government, and even attempts to change Hong Kong's school curriculum to be more pro-China.
The most recent upset however has been caused by the proposal of a highly controversial bill that sought to allow the transfer of certain types of fugitives to numerous jurisdictions, including mainland China. Opponents have raised concerns that this bill only heightens China's control over Hong Kong and goes against the unique legacy that was set in place back in 1997. They also raise the point that China has a worrying statistic of convicting 99.9 per cent of people in China's courts.
What has been happening
Well, in a word, protests. Since the proposed bill was first unveiled in March, people have been taking to the streets to show their level of unease. Gradually, as time has gone on, the protests have gotten larger and sadly more violent with protesters blocking the airport, claims of police brutality and the arrest of over 600 people. The largest protest to date was on August 18th, where over 1.3 million people took to the streets - an average of one in four people in Hong Kong.
What the protesters want
Well, one of their main wishes has already been granted with Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam announcing last week the scrapping of the extradition bill - the ill-fated concept that started the unrest.
* Amnesty for all arrested protesters
* An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality during the protests
* Universal suffrage for the Chief Executive and Legislative Council elections
* Resignation of Mrs Lam and election of a leader in a more democratic way that reflects the preference of the voters vs the current system where the leader is elected by a 1,200 election committee, made up of a mostly pro-Beijing body.
What has been the reaction to the protests
Well reactions have been mixed across the globe. Beijing has of course denounced the protests, warning those taking part not to 'play with fire' and have been releasing footage of military gearing up to take on the protesters. There has also been footage released of security forces practising crowd control exercises with weapons, while a spokesperson for Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said that the months long unrest had "negatively impacted Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, pushing it into a dangerous abyss."
Across the globe, British, American, Canadian and Australian leaders have all expressed their dismay at the situation and encouraged leaders to sit down and listen to the protesters to try and come to a compromise.
The effect of the protests
Well one of the first effects is the knock-on effect on tourism. It has been estimated that so far, Hong Kong has lost around $76 million in tourism revenue. Then there is consumer spending and with protests taking place on the street, and turning progressively more violent, consumer spending is down a whopping 10% year on year. There is also the wider, long-term fear that this unrest will lead to an exodus of foreign workers and companies and therefore investment and taxation. Finally, another concern is how the demonstrations will affect China's relationship with the rest of the world. With the US and China already at odds, world leaders have expressed their desires for China to handle the protests humanely in order to continue with a friendly trade relationship.
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