Politics, World, Asia - Pacific

Hong Kong protests in five questions

Hong Kong autonomous region has witnessed unprecedented protests since June against extradition bill

Fuat Kabakci   | 15.08.2019
Hong Kong protests in five questions


Tension mounts in Hong Kong as Beijing sends military vehicles towards the border.

The autonomous region, under China’s control since 1997, has witnessed unprecedented protests since early June against the local government’s move to allow the extradition of suspects to mainland China, Macao and Taiwan.

Protests began in certain streets in the city before spreading to Hong Kong International Airport.

As authorities keep up tough rhetoric against the protestors, it remains to be seen how the central and local governments plan to stop demonstrations.

Anadolu Agency inquired and answered these five questions on the Hong Kong protests.

1- How did the protests against China’s extradition bill erupt?

Large-scale protests in Hong Kong began last June against a bill to legalize the extradition of suspects to mainland China, Macao and Taiwan.

The bill was brought before the Hong Kong parliament on April 3, but failed due to the decision for additional revisions.

Protestors were concerned that Beijing would use the bill to the extradite political opponents.

They currently demand the complete cancellation of the bill.

2- What does Hong Kong society think about the protestors and their demands?

The protests have been observed to include from 100,000 to 1 million people -- one seventh of Hong Kong’s total population of 7.4 million.

White collar workers have been seen at the protests, with participation from local government offices.

Some are also seen supporting the Hong Kong administration and police forces in the streets.

In this respect, it can be understood that Hong Kong society is polarizing between two political views.

3- Could China take military action against protestors in Hong Kong, according to law?

China set up the "People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison" in 1997, after having taken over the former British colony. The Garrison is estimated to have around 5,000 staff.

According to law, Beijing can deploy soldiers in Hong Kong at the city's request.

However, it must calculate how this would affect its image on the world stage.

Another question is whether China wants the Republic’s 70th anniversary celebrations to be overshadowed by Hong Kong protests.

4- What have the protests cost so far?

According to Hong Kong officials, more than 700 protestors have been detained while six were taken into custody with two people severely injured. Some demonstrators were blinded by plastic bullets used by Hong Kong police.

Markets were shaken by the protests, while some flights from Hong Kong International Airport halted.

Roughly 1,000 flights pass through the airport daily, with a total 75 million passengers last year.

5- What is the purpose of China's deployment of military vehicles along Hong Kong border?

Carrying the baggage of the Tiananmen protests in 1989, the Beijing administration sent military vehicles to Shenzhen on the Hong Kong border after the protests accelerated.

China carried out military exercises with 12,000 police officers in order to maintain social stability in the city.

According to official media, the military exercises and the deployment were a warning against the protestors.

Developments show that the central government has changed its stance on the protestors and international community while giving the message that a military intervention would be possible.

*Writing by Rabia İclal Turan

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