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Umbrella Revolution

October 2nd, 2014

Photo by Kevin Ho via Flickr/Creative Commons

There have been huge protests going on in Hong Kong for about a week now. Thousands upon thousands of people, mostly students and young people, are in the streets. Why?

Photo of Hong Kong protest, Sept. 30, 2014. Photo by Pasu Au Yeung via Flickr/Creative Commons

Hong Kong is part of China. But Hong Kong, on the southern tip of China, traditionally has more autonomy (freedoms) than the rest of mainland China. China is communist and citizens generally don’t elect their leaders in free elections and have limited freedoms.

Why does Hong Kong have some freedoms then? Hong Kong is known as a “Special Administrative Region” of China. Hong Kong was part of Britain, a democracy, until 1997. It was given back to China at that time as part of a longstanding agreement.

The deal at the handover was that Hong Kong would continue with its limited democracy for 50 more years (until 2047).  It’s referred to as “one country, two systems”. Hong Kong has its own legal, financial, and political system. CPGrey went one step further in his YouTube video describing it as “the most country-like country that isn’t a country.”

The protests are happening now because China seems to have promised Hong Kong that it could elect its own leader in its 2017 elections. China, however, said it gets to pick the candidates.

The people of Hong Kong said that’s not good enough and accused China of breaking its promise. Chinese leaders are saying they promised Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy” not full autonomy.

Hong Kong wants more freedom over time but China would rather tighten its control. Hong Kong is an international financial powerhouse and China doesn’t want to give people in mainland China any ideas.

The protests in Hong Kong are mainly by students though that’s been expanding. One of the main organizers of this pro-democracy movement is actually a 17-year old, Joshua Wong, who isn’t even old enough to vote!

It’s being called the Umbrella Revolution because though much of protest has been peaceful, umbrellas were used to shield against the tear gas police tried to use to get protesters to go home. All it did was make more people come out and now the protest is even bigger.

Chloe Ho, a protester, added in an interview with The New York Times , “An umbrella looks nonthreatening. It shows how mild we Hong Kong people are, but when you cross our bottom line, we all come out together, just like the umbrellas all come out at the same time when it rains.”

How will it end?

Demonstrators want Hong Kong’s chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, to resign by today or they’re threatening to take over government buildings. Mr. Leung is refusing to resign and is urging protesters to not escalate the situation. So, the situation is to be continued …

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