Protests in Hong Kong

Dallas Price

The people of Hong Kong demand freedom, why deny them?

The people of Hong Kong clearly demand the right to be free and democratic, preferably as their own sovereign nation. They are the ones who live in Hong Kong and they should be the ones to decide how the want their land to be run. Their passion towards this movement is very clear. The protests have been going on, practically nonstop, for several months. Some people even sport tattoos in support and commitment of their protests.

The protesting riots in Hong Kong come with much danger.In light of harsh pushback by riot police, protestors even had to improvise defenses. One specific improvised defenses is a cordless leaf blower. When the police throw tear gas into crowds, the leaf blowers help to blow it away. Not everyone has a cordless leaf blower to help them out though. On your standard protestors you will typically find a gas mask. These help against tear gas as well as in hiding their identities. People must cover their faces with masks, sunglasses, and whatever they can so as to not be identified easily. If they were caught, they would likely be thrown in jail or blacklisted from jobs.

In these riots, it’s clear to see that how the police fight back is not tolerable. Crowds were initially very peaceful, and yet tear gas would still be thrown in. On the topic of tear gas, one specific time the police threw tear gas near a small boy. The little boy had no protection against it and cried in pain because of it. Ironically, this incident occurred during a rally against police brutality. Thankfully, some people in the rally stopped and aided the boy with water and washcloths.

Police brutality is a big issue in riots

In fact, it’s part of why they continue to go on. Indonesian Journalist Veby Indah was hit by a rubber bullet and became permanently blind in one eye. Police use rubber bullets for riot control and this event goes to show what they can do. Police should not harm the media in any way during protests. A recording revealed that people warned the police that media was near where they were firing. They fired anyhow.

One could say those incidents were purely accidental. That could potentially be correct. It’s for certain though that police brutality is not purely accidental. Police stormed into a station and pepper sprayed and beat passengers. Protestors gathered nightly around a police station in Mong Kok in a peaceful protest against the incident. One night of this protest, police stormed out and beat and arrested the protestors. They refused to answer questions and shined bright lights at media trying to record the altercation.

Police brutality has not only harmed, but also killed. Chow Tsz-lok, at 22, is the first casualty of the protests. Chow was a student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology as well as a protestor. During a clash between police and protestors on a Monday morning, police used tear gas. Unable to see, Chow fell in a multistory parking lot. He needed to be taken to the hospital after sustaining head and pelvis injuries. The hospital confirmed his death on a Friday morning but did not reveal the cause.

Protests impact many people

Though one might think at first that these protests only impact Hong Kong, they do not. They impact China, the United States, and multiple others. The most central impacts though are those to Hong Kong and China. In Hong Kong, these protests damage the economy. Big businesses struggle and the financial secretary declared that Hong Kong is in a recession. In a local election, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong was banned from running. On a less grim political and economical note, a team of activists developed a game called Liberate Hong Kong. The game was made to accurately represent the protests and show the experience to others outside of Hong Kong. A trailer for the game’s demo was recently released.

The trailer can be found here:

China wants control of Hong Kong. They want it to be part of their communist country, even though the people living there disagree. Sophia Huang, a Chinese #MeToo activist, was arrested after a trip to the US, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. She was arrested in Guangzhou for supposedly disturbing public order. The charges were that she was “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” The police use this to detain social activists and a sentence of up to five years can be given. It is unclear whether this had to do with her sharing images of the protests, but it most likely did influence it. They released her on October 25 and dropped all charges. The strain of the trade war between the US and China certainly does not help.

The United States is divided

On a brighter side for Hong Kong, a good bit of people in the US want to support the protests. Popular Youtuber Felix Kjellberg, also known by his channel name Pewdiepie, had his content censored in China for supporting Hong Kong. Australian basketball player Andrew Bogut openly supported Hong Kong. He lost sponsorships and received death threats for it. On the topic of controversy over Hong Kong in the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal supported the rights to speak up for Hong Kong and to support them. Many college students openly support Hong Kong as well. Even Vice President Pence supports Hong Kong protests. He ridiculed Nike and the NBA for censoring support and urged for protests to remain peaceful.

The company Activision Blizzard has shown its stance on the protests as well. Blizzard owns games like World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Hearthstone and I urge players to stop spending money on them. Esports champion Wai Chung from Hong Kong used a livestreamed interview to show his support for the protests. Political views are not supposed to be expressed on Blizzard’s official channel. The company punished this by banning him for a year and revoking his $10,000 prize. Though they did eventually give him the prize and lessen the ban to six months after pressure from employees and fans, Blizzard made its stance clear. To fight back against Blizzard’s clear lean, artists began to use the Chinese character from overwatch, Mei, as a pro Hong Kong symbol.

The subject, though it may appear very black and white at first glance, is very gray. There are many different sides to the story with facts to support them. In the end, I believe China and the US need to have realizations. China needs to realize that Hong Kong will not back down. The US needs to realize that not helping Hong Kong goes against the very foundations of the country. Hong Kong deserves liberation, as it’s what the majority of those living there want.