Hong Kong’s huge protests, explained

Hong Kong’s huge protests, explained

The people of Hong Kong are out in the streets.
Hundreds of thousands are demonstrating against
a deeply unpopular bill.
But this is about a whole lot more than a bill.
It’s about the status of Hong Kong
and the power China has over it.
It’s a fight to preserve the freedoms people
have here.
And it all started with a murder.
On February 8, 2018, a young couple, Chan
Tong Kai and Poon Hiu-Wing, went from their
home in Hong Kong to Taiwan for a vacation.
They stayed at the Purple Garden Hotel in
Taipei for nine days.
But on February 17th only one of them returned
to Hong Kong.
There, one month later, Chan confessed to
murdering his girlfriend, who was pregnant
at the time.
But there was a problem.
Hong Kong authorities couldn’t charge him
for murder, because he did it in Taiwan.
And they couldn’t send him back to Taiwan
to be charged,
because Hong Kong and Taiwan don’t have
an extradition agreement.
So in 2019, Hong Kong’s government proposed
one: it would let them transfer suspects to
Taiwan so they could be tried for their crimes.
But the same bill would also allow extradition
to mainland China.
Where there’s no fair trial, there’s no humane punishment,
and there’s completely no separation
of powers.
And that’s what sparked these protests.
China and Hong Kong are two very different
places with a very complex political relationship.
And the extradition bill threatens to give
China more power over Hong Kong.
See, Hong Kong is technically a part of China.
But it operates as a semi-autonomous region.
It all began in the late 1800s, when China
lost a series of wars to Britain and ended
up ceding Hong Kong for a period of 99 years.
Hong Kong remained a British colony until
1997, when Britain gave it back to
China, under a special agreement.
It was called “One Country, Two Systems.”
It made Hong Kong a part of China, but it
also said that Hong Kong would retain
“a high degree of autonomy,” as well as democratic
freedoms like the right to vote, freedom of
speech, freedom of the press, of assembly.
And that made Hong Kong very different from
mainland China, which is authoritarian: Citizens
there don’t have the same freedoms.
Its legal system is often used to arrest,
punish, and silence people who speak out against
the state.
But according to the agreement, One Country,
Two Systems wouldn’t last forever.
In 2047, Hong Kong is expected to fully become
a part of China.
The problem is, China isn’t waiting
for the deal to expire.
Under the rule of Chinese leader Xi Jinping,
pro-democracy leaders have already been arrested
in Hong Kong.
And mysterious abductions of booksellers have
created a threat to free speech.
But Hong Kong has been pushing back.
In 2003, half a million Hongkongers successfully
fought legislation that would have punished
speaking out against China.
And in 2014, tens of thousands of protesters
occupied the city for weeks to protest China’s
influence over Hong Kong’s elections.
Now, Hong Kongers are fighting the extradition
because the bill is widely seen as the next
step in China’s encroachment
on Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The sheer size of these protests shows you
just how much opposition there is to this bill.
But if Hong Kong’s legislature votes on
the bill, it’ll probably pass.
And that’s because of the unique nature
of Hong Kong’s democracy.
For starters, Hong Kong’s people don’t
vote for their leader.
The Chief Executive is selected by
a small committee and approved by China.
And even though they’re the head of the
government, they don’t make the laws.
That happens here.
Like many democracies, Hong Kong has a legislature,
with democratically elected representatives.
It’s called the Legislative Council, or
LegCo, and it has 70 seats.
Within this system, Hong Kong has many political
parties, but they are mostly either pro-democracy
or pro-China.
In every election, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy
and anti-establishment parties have won the
popular vote.
But they occupy less than half of the seats
in the LegCo.
This is because when Hong Kongers vote, they’re
only voting for these 40 of the 70 seats.
The other 30 are chosen by the various business
communities of Hong Kong.
For example, one seat belongs to the finance
One seat belongs to the medical industry.
One belongs to the insurance industry.
And so on.
Many of these 30 seats are voted on by
And because big business has an incentive
to be friendly with China, those seats are
dominated by pro-China political parties.
When Hong Kong was handed over to China in
1997, Hong Kong and China made an agreement
that eventually, all members of the council
would be elected by the people.
But that never happened.
And ever since the handoff, pro-China parties
have controlled the LegCo, despite having
never won more than 50 percent of the popular
The way it’s structured, they want to make
sure that the executive branch
can have easy control over it.
And that would serve Beijing very well indeed.
Within this unique structure, the extradition
bill has created new tensions and fueled anger
among pro-democracy politicians.
And it’s driven hundreds of thousands of
Hong Kongers into the streets.
While this isn’t Hong Kong’s first protest
against China’s influence, it is the biggest.
And many say this time is different, because of the people involved.
Professionals like lawyers and politicians are participating.
Our legal sector staged their biggest ever protest parade.
But it’s young people who are at the forefront,
since they have the most to lose.
They are the first generation born under One
Country Two Systems.
And in 28 years when that arrangement ends,
they’ll be Hong Kong’s professional class.
I won’t be around anymore.
It’s their future.
It’s their Hong Kong. They have every
right to fight it.
The protests have convinced Hong Kong’s
government to suspend the bill.
But that’s not enough.
Many want the bill withdrawn completely.
That’s because these protests are also part
of a larger fight.
To push back against China’s encroachment
now, not just when time’s up.
2047 is on its way.
But it’s not here yet.
And until then,
Hongkongers still have a voice.
History will tell whether we succeed,
but even if we failed,
history would say they did put up a fight and they didn’t just take things lying down.
And that’s what we’re trying to do too.

100 thoughts to “Hong Kong’s huge protests, explained”

  1. UPDATE: Protesters in Hong Kong forced their way into the legislature on July 1, taking over the building on the 22nd anniversary of the city-state’s handover from Britain to China. The occupation is likely a turning point in what have been relatively peaceful — and powerful — demonstrations. Read more: https://www.vox.com/world/2019/7/1/20677066/hong-kong-protests-legislative-council

  2. China wouldnt till 2047….tgey are too greedy for this world their are no place for selfish evil systems they have

  3. Remember when Americans used to protest like this?
    "We The People" need to unite and take back our country!

  4. 2:23 "It all began in the late 1800's, when China lost a series of wars to Britain…" Ahem. Excuse me. Gesundheit. Thank you… hold my beer, please.

    Yes Vox, the story of the turmoil of a region inhabited since the stone age and currently part of one of humanity's oldest, longest running nations with a vibrant and rich history that has undergone multiple tectonic-level shifts of social, cultural and political paradigms in the last 400 years (several of such shifts in the last 40 years alone), yes that story, begins when the British arrived 140 years ago, and has nothing to do whatsoever with anything else that happened neither before nor since then.

    Got it, not only is Tea'n Crumpet Man Bad… but he is also very VERY influential and central to all things concerning the Chinese and their history. Thanks for clearing that up Vox. Can I have my beer back now.

  5. Hong Kong legal system isn't very comprehensive, so they need to be modified. They don't do it by itself, so China will help it. Hong Kong people fight for their own right isn't wrong, but they should know there is only one China first. They are Hone Kong citizen, at the same time, they are Chinese citizen. One must not forget its roots, if they forget, that's not a real "person".

  6. be clear, people. They should fight for Chinese people because hong kong is indeed a part of china and race after all. If you hate the party, feel free to express, but don't try to kiss British's arses.

  7. all respect to people standing for democracy. one problem tho: why dont the police arrest any protestors being violent like we do here in europe? unbelievable

  8. I guess XJP not really smart huh ? Only know how to getting money, but no clue make the country's people great 😒

  9. So heartwarming. When I was in school in the Philippines, we were told how Filipinos fight for freedom and democracy a lot of times. I can now imagine the Filipino's 'People Power' back in the days.

  10. I hope you can express your demands rationally. I want you to think before you do anything about whether what you do will hurt the city you say you love

  11. Regrettably, your actions are violent, smeared, rumored, and bully. Can your bring peace and justice to Hong Kong?

  12. 现在的世界,是一堆殖民了世界几百年的帝国主义,殖民者,摇身一变,成了民主和自由的捍卫者,而那些被殖民者,殖民地人民,和黑奴,被抢劫者,反倒成了独裁和暴力的代名词,你们也太拿脸不当脸了吧

  13. China starting ww3 once the UN helped hk other country will follow , china has india and russia and nokor ,

  14. it is a very complex situation to discuss it. From another angle of view, first of all, HK was Chinese. It was the UK who colonized first that area, same as Shanghai. 2nd: HK should it think about it better before asking for extradition to Taiwan, oh wait, nobody thought that this could happend?3rd: I don't understand what is bad to fully become a part of China Mailand?They'll still keep their culture, their language, their economy, like in Guangdong. I still admire HK, and I hope this problem gets into a reasonable solution for both parties.

  15. I don't care much about politics, but I feel like they way they sort of disconnect themselves from china as a cultural point of view isn't very productive in their struggles, like it or not they are ethnically Chinese, its the government not the people, I just don't feel like how they are dealing with this situation is effective in trying to be independent. I know this is sensitive but Im just stating my opinion, feel free to state yours and discuss if needed

  16. So in 2047 there will be one country and one system legally I wonder what HK people will do then, seems like they are trying to avoid inevitable to me

  17. Hmm ? A piece of china that hates china? I guess your government is as wicked as Philippines..mindanao

  18. I wonder what the mainland Chinese feels about these issues? Coz if I was a Chinese, I'd be so embarassed and ashamed of my own country for being so greedy of power.

  19. China won't cave, or wait until 2047, as the semi-autonomous agreement will never last as the one party never secedes to dissent or protest, look at Tianaman Square, they killed 1000 people, and covered it up. Yet, with so much technology and global video and communication access, the authoritarian gov't will have to use very high risk and covert actions to supress the people in Hong Kong. Taiwan, which may be a military confrontation, as only time will tell.

  20. If this bill seems to get passed eventually, people of hong kong should pack their bags and migrate to other countries immediately. Communism and China isn't a very good tandem.

  21. The SECOND China tells Hong Kong, "Ok, enough of your tantrums", China will make its move and take full control. And who's going to stop them? The US? We'll bark, but there'll be no true bite behind it. (We've got enough issues to handle right here at home so we need to mind our own business anyway!). The EU?…Ha! Russia won't lift a finger – (why would they?). No Asian nation can stand against China. Our politicians keep saying that "China is rising". Sorry to tell ya, but China has risen and kicking our butts economically already.

  22. But.. what can we do? Nothing? Just sit and watch I mean I just hope nothing bad happens to these civies. Just imagine, an "incident" like Tiananmen all over again..

  23. 其实香港就是太把自己当回事儿了,说真的,只要香港不搞独立,大陆为什么想收回香港治理权?一国两制上世界上最文明的做法,为了尽可能减少对香港制度的冲击,大陆只想完成统一,这对中共是一个执念,它对中国人许下承诺,它只有完成祖国统一才能稳固地位,完成历史使命。只要香港不搞独立这回事儿,就算给你们真普选也没问题!关键是,你们能保证你们选出来的人不会分裂国家吗?给你们选出来的领导人如果主张分裂国家怎么办?这就背离了中共的初衷,破坏了中共完成统一的使命,我想这是中共不能忍受,大陆人也不能忍受的事情

  24. 西方正在害怕一个统一,强大的中国的崛起,反证了他们百年来的民主是多么的可笑。

  25. "i won't be around anymore. it's their future. it's their hongkong. they have every right to fight it."

  26. The modern traitors from Hong Kong are playing the banner of "democracy" and "freedom" for the people of Hong Kong. They are more deceptive than the traitors in history. Their banner was borrowed from the forces attacking China by the United States and the West. When the latter advertised the spread of "democracy" and "freedom" to China, the real lock was to prevent China from becoming strong and destroying the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

  27. Miriss, melihat dunia sekarang,
    Apakah ini termasuk fitnah dajjal, yg membuat kehancuran di setiap negara

  28. Protest people of have 230000 thousand person , Hong Kong have. 7 million people so who can speak for who ? The 230000 speak for 7million people ? Why don’t interview the rest of normal people see how they think ?

  29. Son . : Parent I elect to run the family
    Parent : ok do you love your family
    son : no I don’t love u and all the other. Family members and after I run this family I will get rid of you and take brother and sisters to be independent from you
    So what the parent should reply ?

  30. According to the extradition bill the criminal will go to trail by hongkong court first . Not directly send away for trail . They don’t trust their legal systems which they are so proud of ?

  31. That if an Extradition bill passes, it means the fall/end of Hong Kong? What an inflammatory, extremist, and misguided interpretation of a bill! This is why I stopped taking the protesters view seriously a month ago. Many thousands of them think they understand everything, but they really don't. But people can be played and manipulated, as they can everywhere and always. Live another 20 years, they may wise up … or not.

  32. Claudia Mo, where is justice for the murdered pregnant victim where the murderer cannot be brought to justice ? Justice is more important than total total freedom to manipulate legal loophole.

  33. We all know that all the British governors were elected by the Hong Kees, right ?

    Ha ha ha….
    I hope the HK police grow a spine and send more HK brats to the hospital !

  34. One month later, the bill did not make it. And still protests regarding to this issues are going and getting violently. World peace.

  35. "this law will affect all hongkongers"
    lolllllllllllll. ia that means all people in hongkong are criminals?lollllllll.

  36. 我们先想想捋下 什么是自由 什么是民主 谁定义的 如何衡量着样的民主和自由是好的? 为什么你说的就是对的 依据是什么 请简单说下Let's start by thinking about what it means to be free and what it means to be democratic and who defines it and how to measure what kind of democracy and freedom is good? Why is what you said right and what's the basis for that

  37. 西方式民主?事实是国内大部分人都不会有这个要求,因为中国这么多人口的国家不适合民主制度那一套

  38. Yes pray for HK to have the freedom that is denied to Chinese on the Mainland. Respect to Hong Kongers !

  39. 其实中国的对香港的态度更本不是像视频中的那样,其实大家看采访就知道,明显被剪辑过,目的就是为了推动香港反对派,让中国混乱,这才是这个视频的真正目的,这个视频作者有着如此大的影响力,你这样做真的好吗,香港同胞们,中国真的是处处为你们着想啊,从政策上的扶持,特别是学生,不但可以领奖学金还有各种各样的福利,中国人民希望大家能团结一致,至于学生们未来发展也并不用担心,中国的高速发展大家都有目共睹,香港同胞们来大陆发展反倒是优势,相信大家都有一双明亮的眼睛,不要被西方媒体带了节奏,香港同胞要是不信完全可以去大陆各个网站的态度

  40. what is a "technically "the part of China? Hong Kong has already become full of China since 1997. The mainland just gives Hong Kong more comfortable police, which means that Hong Kong is an Independent area of China ( not the independent area of the world). Based on the fact that Taiwan and Hong Kong belong to China, the Chinese government do have the right to punish criminals instead of punished by two areas of China.

  41. This video is an example of simplistic, Western, self-congratulation. Oh look! They want to be just like us! That kind of stuff is advertiser friendly (can be monetized on YouTube) and gets lots of views so Vox puts it out there. There is no future for Hong Kong apart from integration with China. Hong Kong was once valuable to the world as a conduit into China. No more. What does Hong Kong now provide that the world can’t get, at a lower price, from China? Shenzhen, which borders on Hong is far more prosperous and a much more livable city. One in five Hong Kong residents lives in extreme poverty. In China that number is only one in one-hundred. If the protests succeed in blocking integration into China, Hong Kong will become just another Monaco; a place where the ultra-wealthy go to hide their money. Meanwhile the millions of ordinary Hong Kongers, including those protesters mesmerized by the mirage of Western "democracy," will have to leave Hong Kong and go to the only place they can, mainland China, a place where their economic problems have already been solved.

  42. The scary thing is in 2047 when the hongkong china border breaks, all these protesters will be hunted down.

  43. The protest is still going on, I don't think it'll stop any moment, and sadly I also don't think it'll succeed. It's pretty sad that 1 Country 2 Systems just doesn't work on China because they don't respect any of the promises they made.

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