The Wall Street Journal

What Hong Kong Protesters Want


What started off as a demonstration against a controversial extradition bill has become a series of massive protests with broad political demands. Here is why so many Hong Kongers keep taking to the streets in a leaderless movement and whether their goals can be achieved.

Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters

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A 15-year-old girl is believed to have become the youngest Hong Kong protester ever to seek asylum in the UK. Called "Aurora," she joins a growing list of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists fleeing the territory in the wake of Beijing's increased crackdown on dissidents. But how open are the UK and other countries to accepting such asylum claims from Hong Kong protesters?
Hong Kong supporters of President Donald Trump are changing their Twitter avatars to show support President Trump and protest the censoring of his Twitter Account.
Hong-Kong'ers are connecting with the president saying they have been the victims of violations and suppressions of their right to free speech by the Chinese Communist Party.
Twitter permanently suspended the Presidents account on Saturday after the protests on the Capitol.
Twitter said that the President's Tweets violate Twitter's policy against the glorification of violence.
One Twitter user told the local media,
"I think [Twitter's banning of Trump] is not acceptable," adding
"Why has the company not banned other accounts also appearing to spread fake news or incite violence?"

The Global Times called out Big Tech Companies in the U.S. for allowing Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong to continue to use their platforms, while suspending the presidents platform for what they call ‘a lesser offence'
"The Hong Kong rioters who were actively inciting violence far outnumbered the U.S. protesters, and lasted longer, why didn't they ban them? Those platforms will lose their moral high ground of advertising freedom of speech forever," said a user of China's Weibo microblogging platform quoted approvingly by the Global Times — which forgot to mention that Weibo exists because China's authoritarian regime bans Twitter for everyone except Communist officials, who freely use the platform to disseminate propaganda and disinformation in the outside world.
As China's President Xi Jinping consolidates his power, scrapping a two-term presidential limit and cracking down on voices opposed to him, he has taken a firmer grip on the northwestern region of Xinjiang and self-governing Hong Kong.

His next focus could be the island of Taiwan. Xi has gone as far as saying it is an "inevitable requirement for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people".

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A court in Hong Kong has sentenced leading pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong to a total of 13-and-a-half months in jail for charges related to last year's anti-government protests. Mr Wong and two other pro-democracy protesters pleaded guilty to charges including inciting an illegal assembly. After those mass protests last year, Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in June. Critics say the new law is being used to further silence dissidents. Speaking through his lawyer, Joshua Wong said the fight for democracy and freedom would continue in prison.

… show captions ↓
- [Reporter] Since June,
Hong Kong has seen a lot of action.
Non-stop demonstrations
against the controversial extradition bill,
violent clashes between protesters and police,
chaos at the city's airport,
and massive peaceful marches
in which organizers said
nearly two million people walked in pouring rain.
The movement doesn't have clear leaders
and many people meet anonymously online to organize action.
But their demands have grown and become a unifying force
for millions of Hongkongers.
- The public seeks the government's direct response
to the five major demands.
- Five demands. - The five requests.
- [Reporter] So what exactly do protesters want?
It all started with one demand,
the withdrawal of the extradition bill.
It would have allowed suspects in Hong Kong
to be sent to China for trial.
As a special administrative region,
Hong Kong has some autonomy from Beijing,
like its own judiciary and legal system.
But the proposed bill sparked concerns
about China's growing influence in the city,
propelling millions of people, young and old, to come out.
Bowing to public pressure,
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam
suspended the bill
just six days after the first mass protest,
but didn't shelve it.
As a result, people continue to demand
it be withdrawn completely.
The leader of Hong Kong responded with this.
- The bill is dead.
- [Reporter] As the government keeps refusing
to formally withdraw the bill,
people continue taking to the streets,
fearing it could be resurrected.
On June 12, tens of thousands of protesters
blocked the entrance to the Legislative Council Building.
Police responded to the huge congregation
with tear gas and rubber bullets.
It shocked the city.
The incident was designated a riot.
Lam says accusations of rioting
won't be used against peaceful protesters.
But this term is controversial
because it could label a rioter
as anyone who is in the vicinity of the clashes.
Those found guilty rioting
could face up to 10 years in jail.
Protesters are demanding that the designation be dropped.
They also want amnesty for those who've been arrested.
Since June, police have made over 700 arrests.
The government argues amnesty would weaken the rule of law
if prosecutions weren't followed through.
Protester are also demanding an independent inquiry
into the police handling of the protests.
Officers have shot not only the projectiles at close range
and liberally fire tear gas
in residential and tourist areas, even in subway stations.
This has become one of the biggest rallying cries.
In one of the latest skirmishes
a young woman was hit in the eye.
She's become a symbol
of the movement against police brutality.
Lam says an inquiry into police actions
would be bad for officers' morale
and insisted that a government watchdog group
led by civilians would do as much of a good job.
The fifth demand is greater democracy
and the biggest ask.
Under the current governance system with China,
Hong Kong's leaders and some members of the lawmaking body
are groups loyal to Beijing.
So protesters are calling for universal suffrage,
that each person gets a vote that actually counts
in choosing their leader.
But most experts and even Hongkongers think
this last demand is unattainable in the short-term,
given Beijing's toughening stance on any form of dissent.
As momentum for the movement has grown,
so have protesters' demands.
But the government has refused
to recognize any since mid-June.
Diplomacy is critical in a deadlock.
But the movement's mostly leaderless nature
means that not one particular group or person
can speak on behalf of everyone.
Lam has promised to work on dialogue
with different groups of people
from all backgrounds and political platforms
to find a way out for Hong Kong.
Some of these are big asks,
nonetheless, many protesters hope
the government will make some concessions.
Until then, public discontent is unlikely to go away.

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