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Last Updated : Aug 19, 2019 06:04 PM IST | Source:

Explained: What is happening in Hong Kong?

For more on this, watch the video by Aakriti Handa.

Moneycontrol News @moneycontrolcom

At least 1.7 million anti-government protesters – nearly 20 percent of Hong Kong's population – rallied peacefully in the city on August 18, filling major thoroughfares under torrential downpours in the eleventh week of what have been often violent demonstrations in the Asian financial hub.

As pro-democracy protests became more aggressive in Hong Kong, its international airport cancelled all flights and check-ins last week. The Indian government also issued an advisory to its flyers regarding their travel to Hong Kong.

So what is happening in Hong Kong?


About three months ago, people of Hong Kong began protests against a law which proposed extradition of people from the city to mainland China. Over time, the resistance has taken the form of demonstrations demanding more democratic liberties.

But isn’t Hong Kong a part of China?

Hong Kong enjoys a special status, making it different from other Chinese cities. For understanding the special status, we need to delve into a little history.

Hong Kong was a British colony for more than 150 years. A part of it – the Hong Kong island – was ceded to the UK after a war in 1842. Later, China leased the rest of Hong Kong the British for 99 years.

Through time, Hong Kong became a busy trading port and its economy took off in the 1950’s. The city was also popular with migrants and dissidents, who wanted to escape poverty, instability and persecution in mainland China.

As the end of the 99-year-lease approached, Britain and China indulged in talks about the future of Hong Kong. The Communist government in China wanted that all of Hong Kong should be returned to the Chinese rule.

In 1984, the two nations struck a deal that Hong Kong will be returned to China in 1997 under the principle of ‘one country two systems’. This meant that despite being a part of China, Hong Kong will enjoy a great degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs. Therefore, Hong Kong has its own legal system and civil rights.

Then, what is causing the protests?

Even as Hong Kong enjoys certain freedoms not seen on mainland China, critics believe that that they are on the decline. Rights groups have accused China of meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs, citing examples of legal rulings to subvert democracy in the city. Artists and writers claim that they are under increased pressure to self censor.

What are the protestors demanding?

They have demanded complete withdrawal of the extradition bill as they fear it will be used by China to target its political enemies and erode the civil rights enjoyed by Hong Kongers. In response, China has accused US of fomenting tension in Hong Kong.

For more on this, watch the video by Aakriti Handa.

Note: The story has been updated to incorporate latest developments. 

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First Published on Aug 17, 2019 10:40 am
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