Hong Kong

Hong Kong

By David Runciman and Catherine Carr

What is happening in Hong Kong? We talk to a professor of Chinese history and a Hong Kong journalist about the recent wave of protests there and try to discover what is really at stake on all sides.  Who are the protestors? What are their core demands? Can these be met? And what will happen if they aren't? Plus we explore the parallels with other protest movements around the world and look at the possible knock-on effects, from Beijing to Taiwan. With Hans van de Ven and Angus Hui.

Talking Points:

The protests in Hong Kong are now in their second month. As many as half a million people have taken to the streets.

There is also a smaller group of much younger people who occupied the legislative council chambers last week.The initial protests were about repealing an extradition law. But the protest now seems to be about the entire system.This is the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. 

The protesters want to show that Hong Kong is not China.

Is this a threat to one country, two systems? The Umbrella Movement in 2014 was about suffrage and democracy. Is this going beyond that?One country, two systems was meant to last 50 years. We are now 22 years in. 

What would the protesters count as success?

Independence is an unrealistic goal. The protesters want three things: 1) The withdrawal of the extradition bill 2) An independent investigation committee into police violence against the protesters and 3) protection from prosecution for the protesters.A real win would be a genuinely elected chief executive and a genuinely elected legislative council. This would involve negotiations with Beijing.

Even if these protests fade, the issues remain and will only get more serious.

What is happening in Hong Kong is the building up of a tradition of protests that will feed on each other.There is a broader breakdown in trust between mainland China and the people living in Hong Kong, including the fear that the social credit system may be introduced in Hong Kong.

Mentioned in this Episode:

English language news sources on the situation in Hong Kong

Further Learning:

Background from the NYTimes on the protestsMore on the umbrella revolutionMore on Christianity and the Hong Kong protests

And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking

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