This past Sunday, November 24th, 2019 was truly a momentous day. Millions of people braved streets that had only days before been filled with chaos and violence, to vote in record numbers and make their voices heard against an authoritarian regime.
Not that you could tell by looking at the news. The leading stories on all the major news outlets were once again all about impeachment.
But what the people of Hong Kong did on Sunday was historical.
It’s already having an impact on the markets, and it’s going to get bigger…
China Made their Bed, Now They Have to Lie in It
I’ve written about the Hong Kong protests before, but the short version of it is this:
Earlier this year, the Hong Kong government, in effect appointed by mainland China’s communist government, proposed a law that would allow extradition of criminal suspects to China.
Now, Hong Kong’s laws are very different from the rest of China’s. As a legacy of long British rule, and by contractual agreement of the transition from British rule to Chinese rule, the city has a separate constitution that guarantees freedoms of speech, assembly, and so on – liberties that do not exist, or are in very short supply in mainland China.
The extradition bill threatened to end the separate freedoms because it would allow China to extradite Hong Kongers that speak out against China, or breaking mainland Chinese law in other ways. So the people of Hong Kong began protesting.
After a harsh response from the police, combined with the government being dismissive of concerns about police brutality, the protests escalated. For months now, the city has been paralyzed by running battles between protesters and police, some have died and many more have been hurt, and the protesters feel ever more voiceless as the government pushes harder and harder.
The extradition bill itself has been abandoned (after many power struggles), but now the protesters’ demands have changed. They now want a more responsive government, investigations into the police’s handling of the protests, and other reforms.
The impact of the protests and the responses on Hong Kong have been severe, with the city entering a recession for the first time since the financial crisis.