Protests in Hong Kong: All you need to know

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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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