Since 31 March, 2019, huge protests have been taking place in Hong Kong as citizens protest a since-suspended extradition bill. In June, more than one million citizens have participated, making it the largest protest in the history of Hong Kong. The bill calls for the extradition of criminals from Hong Kong to China. However, Hong Kong citizens strongly oppose the bill, saying that the Chinese government may abuse it to repatriate people who resist China or human rights activists with unfair political judgment.
Historically, as British Hong Kong was returned to China on 1 July, 1997, China promised to guarantee Hong Kong its full autonomy. But its control over Hong Kong was increasingly tightened, many people leaving Hong Kong with growing economic crisis and political discontent. Indeed, Hong Kong’s autonomy is considered to be seriously violated, with the administrative minister of Hong Kong’s government being elected by indirect elections by the pro-China faction electoral college. So in 2014, Hong Kong citizens launched the Umbrella Revolution, a massive protest against the government, and demanded a direct election of the administrative minister, but the protest did not lead to the actual revision of the election system.
Under these similar circumstances, citizens are fiercely protesting against the extradition bill and claiming their rights because it is feared that Hong Kong’s autonomy is being violated by the Chinese government again. In other words, the protests were actually triggered by not only the extradition bill but also Hong Kong’s discontent with China. Hong Kong, as well as China's policies and electoral structure, has been suffering from rising prices and housing prices due to Chinese rich investors who have recently become more easily able to get into Hong Kong. As a result, the gap between the rich and the poor in Hong Kong is increasingly widening over the years and the lives of Hong Kong citizens are becoming more strained.
An Observer reporter Kim Bo-ra witnessed the Hong Kong protests in person near Chim Sha Tsui metro station around 10 p.m. on 7 July. The road near the station was crowded with police and journalists rushing around the street. She and her companions had to wait for a long time because protesters had been marching for a while at the entrance to the metro station where they had to pass. She said it was very difficult to understand the language, but she could understand that they were demonstrating and protesting for the democratization of Hong Kong. She also said she was afraid and overwhelmed by the unexpected trouble and disturbance. But at the same time, the sight of countless citizens protesting on the streets reminded her of our candlelight protests. Kim Bo-ra, who has participated in several candlelight protests in Daegu’s Dongseong-ro said, “Although the background of the protests is different, I thought they were very similar in a way that both people started the protests to make a better country.” And lastly, she said she wanted to cheer for their voices towards the Hong Kong and Chinese government because she fully understood how they felt when they were taking part in the protests and shouting out slogans.
I also sincerely hope that Hong Kong citizens' wills and opinions will be accepted through this protest, unlike the Umbrella Revolution in 2014.