A year since the Hong Kong protests began, what has changed and what lies ahead?
On June 09, Tuesday, protesters held demonstrations in Hong Kong malls and on the streets to mark the first anniversary of the extradition bill protests. More than 50 people are reported to have been arrested.
A year of protests has definitely resulted in a lot of changes in Hong Kong, especially with the world itself experiencing history-turning events in recent months.
Here is a glimpse of the key events which have happened since the protests began.
A quick timeline
The extradition bill that was filed in the Hong Kong government will allow extradition from Hong Kong to Mainland China, threatening the high level of autonomy present in the special administrative region and the rights of the people. With this, the protests have started in order to resist its passage.
After several weeks of protests, the extradition bill was suspended. However, protesters argued that a suspended bill can easily be revived if not fully scrapped.
With this, the unrest continued as they demanded the bill to be completely abolished. Eventually, Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam announced that the bill will be formally withdrawn.
In spite of the formal withdrawal, the protests have continued as the protest expanded to a larger pro-democracy movement.
Even in the early days of the mass protests, damages to the Hong Kong economy have been experienced as pessimism among investors grew and the size of tourist arrivals depleted. By the end of 2019, the unemployment rate has also increased in the region.
The mass protests combined with the U.S-China trade war sent Hong Kong to recession for the first time in a decade. Instabilities in Hong Kong, being a financial hub and the fourth-largest source of foreign exchange trading in the world, can also affect the global economy.
What lies ahead
While the COVID-19 pandemic has dampened the intensity of the protests in the first few months, Hong Kongers have returned to the streets once more due to the approval of China’s national security bill for Hong Kong which intends to punish those that will commit secession, subversion, terrorism, and foreign interference.
However, this goes against Article 23 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law which stipulates that the special administrative region should be drafting its own national security law.
Seeing this move as China’s attempt to disrupt the autonomy in Hong Kong and gain control, the people intensified their resistance.
Adding more fuel to the fire, a critical event is about to happen in a few months: the Legislative Council election on September 6. Now that the stakes are higher, It is clear that the future of Hong Kong will be filled with massive changes — with either China successfully tightening its grip on Hong Kong or Hong Kongers gaining the victory they have been fighting for years.
If history is prologue, then we know that regardless of what lies ahead of them, Hong Kongers will continue their fight for change and refuse to allow the foundations of their civil liberties to be toppled down.