Protests in Hong Kong: All you need to know

Rally in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is in the midst of worst political crisis since its 1997 handover. Following China's refusal to grant citizens full universal suffrage, pro-democracy activists have took to the streets.

What is the issue?

  • The latest protests came after Beijing, in August, rejected people's demand to freely elect city's next leader in 2017.
  • During the reunification, it was agreed that the people of Hong Kong would elect their own head democratically in 2017. 
  • But in August 2014, Beijing backstepped, saying the elected chief executive would have to be approved by a Beijing-loyal committee.
  • Beijing's insistence on using a committee to screen candidates have compelled people to join the protests.
  • Now, the protesters are trying to pressurize China for giving Hong Kong a full universal suffrage.
  • While, China is refusing to do so.
  • This has led to widespread protest and clashes by the pro-democracy supporters.

 Hong Kong united with China in 1997

  • Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997, when the UK handed it back to China. 
  • During this, a deal was struck promising "a high degree of autonomy" to Hong Kong under the principle of "One Country, Two Systems."
  • This system is supposed to remain in place until 2047.

The political situation of Hong Kong

  • At present, Hong Kong is home to 7 million people.
  • It has its own legal and financial system.
  • Unlike other Chinese cities, it enjoys civil liberties such as an independent judiciary, freedom of the press and the right to protest.
  • Hong Kong's leader, known as the chief executive, is elected by a 1,200-strong committee stacked with Beijing loyalists.

What is China's stand on the ongoing issue?

  • In a policy document, Beijing in June, said that Hong Kong does not enjoy "full autonomy".
  • It said the residents are "confused or lopsided in their understanding" of "One Country, Two Systems."
  • Beijing has also blamed the pro-democracy opposition in Hong Kong on interference by Britain and the United States.

What is Occupy Central?

  • In January last year, a Hong Kong University professor called for an act of "civil disobedience" if the plan for universal suffrage does not go ahead as promised.
  • This started the movement known as Occupy Central with Love and Peace.
  • In this movement, residents of Hong Kong were urged to participate in peaceful protests to fight for the granting of full democracy.

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