Hong Kong’s huge protests, explained

Hong Kong’s huge protests, explained

The people of Hong Kong are out in the streets. Hundreds of thousands are demonstrating against
a deeply unpopular bill. But this is about a whole lot more than a bill. It’s about the status of Hong Kong
and the power China has over it. It’s a fight to preserve the freedoms people
have here. And it all started with a murder. On February 8, 2018, a young couple, Chan
Tong Kai and Poon Hiu-Wing, went from their home in Hong Kong to Taiwan for a vacation. They stayed at the Purple Garden Hotel in
Taipei for nine days. But on February 17th only one of them returned
to Hong Kong. There, one month later, Chan confessed to
murdering his girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time. But there was a problem. Hong Kong authorities couldn’t charge him
for murder, because he did it in Taiwan. And they couldn’t send him back to Taiwan
to be charged, because Hong Kong and Taiwan don’t have
an extradition agreement. So in 2019, Hong Kong’s government proposed
one: it would let them transfer suspects to Taiwan so they could be tried for their crimes. But the same bill would also allow extradition
to mainland China. Where there’s no fair trial, there’s no humane punishment, and there’s completely no separation
of powers. And that’s what sparked these protests. China and Hong Kong are two very different
places with a very complex political relationship. And the extradition bill threatens to give
China more power over Hong Kong. See, Hong Kong is technically a part of China. But it operates as a semi-autonomous region. It all began in the late 1800s, when China
lost a series of wars to Britain and ended up ceding Hong Kong for a period of 99 years. Hong Kong remained a British colony until
1997, when Britain gave it back to China, under a special agreement. It was called “One Country, Two Systems.” It made Hong Kong a part of China, but it
also said that Hong Kong would retain “a high degree of autonomy,” as well as democratic
freedoms like the right to vote, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, of assembly. And that made Hong Kong very different from
mainland China, which is authoritarian: Citizens there don’t have the same freedoms. Its legal system is often used to arrest,
punish, and silence people who speak out against the state. But according to the agreement, One Country,
Two Systems wouldn’t last forever. In 2047, Hong Kong is expected to fully become
a part of China. The problem is, China isn’t waiting
for the deal to expire. Under the rule of Chinese leader Xi Jinping,
pro-democracy leaders have already been arrested in Hong Kong. And mysterious abductions of booksellers have
created a threat to free speech. But Hong Kong has been pushing back. In 2003, half a million Hongkongers successfully
fought legislation that would have punished speaking out against China. And in 2014, tens of thousands of protesters occupied the city for weeks to protest China’s influence over Hong Kong’s elections. Now, Hong Kongers are fighting the extradition
bill, because the bill is widely seen as the next
step in China’s encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy. The sheer size of these protests shows you
just how much opposition there is to this bill. But if Hong Kong’s legislature votes on
the bill, it’ll probably pass. And that’s because of the unique nature
of Hong Kong’s democracy. For starters, Hong Kong’s people don’t
vote for their leader. The Chief Executive is selected by
a small committee and approved by China. And even though they’re the head of the
government, they don’t make the laws. That happens here. Like many democracies, Hong Kong has a legislature,
with democratically elected representatives. It’s called the Legislative Council, or
LegCo, and it has 70 seats. Within this system, Hong Kong has many political
parties, but they are mostly either pro-democracy or pro-China. In every election, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy
and anti-establishment parties have won the popular vote. But they occupy less than half of the seats
in the LegCo. This is because when Hong Kongers vote, they’re
only voting for these 40 of the 70 seats. The other 30 are chosen by the various business communities of Hong Kong. For example, one seat belongs to the finance
industry. One seat belongs to the medical industry. One belongs to the insurance industry. And so on. Many of these 30 seats are voted on by
corporations. And because big business has an incentive
to be friendly with China, those seats are dominated by pro-China political parties. When Hong Kong was handed over to China in
1997, Hong Kong and China made an agreement that eventually, all members of the council
would be elected by the people. But that never happened. And ever since the handoff, pro-China parties
have controlled the LegCo, despite having never won more than 50 percent of the popular
vote. The way it’s structured, they want to make
sure that the executive branch can have easy control over it. And that would serve Beijing very well indeed. Within this unique structure, the extradition
bill has created new tensions and fueled anger among pro-democracy politicians. And it’s driven hundreds of thousands of
Hong Kongers into the streets. While this isn’t Hong Kong’s first protest
against China’s influence, it is the biggest. And many say this time is different, because of the people involved. Professionals like lawyers and politicians are participating. Our legal sector staged their biggest ever protest parade. But it’s young people who are at the forefront,
since they have the most to lose. They are the first generation born under One
Country Two Systems. And in 28 years when that arrangement ends,
they’ll be Hong Kong’s professional class. I won’t be around anymore. It’s their future. It’s their Hong Kong. They have every
right to fight it. The protests have convinced Hong Kong’s
government to suspend the bill. But that’s not enough. Many want the bill withdrawn completely. That’s because these protests are also part
of a larger fight. To push back against China’s encroachment
now, not just when time’s up. 2047 is on its way. But it’s not here yet. And until then, Hongkongers still have a voice. History will tell whether we succeed, but even if we failed, history would say they did put up a fight and they didn’t just take things lying down. And that’s what we’re trying to do too.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. UPDATE 8/22/19: Last weekend saw the largest peaceful march in Hong Kong since the start of the protests. Organizers say roughly 1.7 million people marched on the streets of Hong Kong.

    Vox's daily podcast, Today, Explained, breaks down the situation and its most recent developments:

    👉 Listen on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3pXx5SXzXwJxnf4A5pWN2A

    👉 Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://applepodcasts.com/todayexplained

    👉 Listen on Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/today-explained/e/63398553

  2. 基本法解释权不在你们….基本法规定的普选是什么搞清楚没。香港只是中国的一个行政区,怎么可能让反共人士占议会多数? 闲得蛋疼

  3. Poor HongKong. So sad won’t be able to go for a long time before it’s restored. people from HK,Please, u can protest, u can chant, fight for your rights or whatever. But stop destroying the city. Your city! your HOME!

  4. What a deplorable man, to take his pregnant girlfriend to another country, under the guise of a vacation, just to murder her and his unborn child. Makes me sick.

  5. Hong Kong just wants exclusivity from the mainland, even though their legislation is from China. Why are they so worked up about it.

  6. The next situation like Hong Kong is in Europe, Barcelona, ​​London. Just like a virus,It is also in the midst of variation!

  7. A great many Hong Kongers came illegally from the mainland so are fearing being sent back , or their friends and partners being sent back, too. Though this fight is for everthing . Hong Kong itself.

  8. 香港人身在福中不知福,在等五十年以后,你们别哭着喊着要求跟大陆拥有一样的社会制度,不是因为有中央政府管控你们四大家族的财团,现在的香港就跟韩国一样,金钱控制政府控制国家,而你们不过是资本家养的猪,拿来卖钱的,随时都可以牺牲掉

  9. Asian/Hong Kongers protest: Oh they're so passionate, I'm tearing up
    Afr. Americans protest: Thugs, lock em up! Be grateful!

    Got it…

  10. End up it defends on the leader who is in charge leader must know when is the right thing to do and when is not particularly for his people… Must learn to respect their master piece.

  11. Chinese government is petty much dictatorship and micromanages its people. Controls every single one of them making even smallest decisions for them.

  12. Freedom of speech, lol. Youtube are deleting my comments with channels that i subscribed. What a “Freedom of speech” environment

  13. At 3:54 , that’s one of the roads the school bus used to go to the school.

    it hurts to see my home country like this 🙁

  14. Isn't it exactly because the protestors are doing something outrageous that they are wearing masks in an attempt to hide their identities? If they had nothing to be afraid of (destroying buildings, lighting cars on fire, throwing molotovs, sabotaging traffics (especially since it's HK) discriminately attacking civilians and even tv reporters to half death) why do they still hide their faces through disguise?

  15. It is sad, no one knows anymore the real reason of all these unrest. And literally 'no one' in the west know or interested in that horrible murder story.

  16. If the United States condemns the human rights of China and Hong Kong, then we stand for us to stand with the blacks who pursue racial equality. African Americans should rise up against the oppression of whites, overthrow the rule of white Americans, and subvert the American regime!

  17. It would be amazing if some of the protesters organized the inflation of a GIANT winnie the pooh that would soar over hong kong

  18. HK has a 'Claytons' democracy – the democracy you have when you have no democracy at all.
    They are now getting the wake up call and it obviously doesn't sit well. All thru history freedom
    had to be fought for.

  19. Iraq Ukraine Syria Libya and now hongkong , usa has made the whole world into jail with their weapon called "Democracy "

  20. Tbh im still confused , can some1 explane me this because english is not my main language and she is using a lot of "profesional" worlds which i dont understeand. Is there any other way to be explanied whats going on.

  21. This would be the USA with out the 2nd Amendment. Imagine if every protester had a combat rifle. The Government would be at it's knees.

  22. You're telling me..
    They want change now..
    But will accept total assimilation in 2047?
    I'm no fortune teller but regardless of the outcome of this, there's another riot waiting to happen.

  23. 2:55 people's right to Freedom of speech, Freedom of assembly, and Freedom of press are listed in the 1982 Constitution of People's Republic of China

  24. Something that brings a smile to my face is I am finally seeing something that both major sides of the US political system agree on.

    It almost brings a tear to my eye.

  25. They are Terrorists and Rioters, hundreds of policemen got assaulted, their family are threatened, they are not protesters

  26. People are literally destroying public properties causing the city paralysis, these rebels would beat up people for sharing their opinions, and you tell me they are freedom fighters? I don’t think so. In my country we call them criminals.

  27. Nooooooooo my outside life is over forever!! 😭💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭☔☔☔☔☔☔☔☔☔

  28. Seem the violence is still being covered up

    The Hong Kong people still hold a Chinese philosophy except it unity for Hong alone
    Tbh China might split in 100 years and become like the US but I how they can do better.

  29. Return the 30 LegCo seats that business controls, to the people for their vote, then system will become democratic and fair.

    The bill is just a distraction from the real change needed in the broken undemocratic LegCo system.

    Clearly the system needs to change to represent the people better.

    Majority of businesses will always be pro-china because they put profit before people, money before country and finance before freedom.

    These business seats are probably representatives of multinational corporations and therefore not really representing Hong Kong anyway.

    The majority of people need to be able to control of the majority of seats and the way the system is now is broken and favours China so

    the system needs to change to be able to represent the people more fairly.

  30. Although the Korean government cannot directly express its position due to economic problems, we Koreans wish Hong Kong freedom. I hope you win freedom just like Korea did in the past. The Korean people fought without any support, but now there are countless foreign journalists in Hong Kong. Let's hope you get your own freedom back with them!

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