Why Is Hong Kong Protesting Against China?

Protests are fairly common in Hong Kong and they’re usually handled peacefully by law enforcement That is until this past week, when police showed up in military gear and used tear gas on a protest group called Occupy Central

A move that is being seen by some as a clear sign that China and Hong Kong's pro-China chief executive are changing their tune on civil unrest So, why is the Chinese government more aggressively cracking down now and what is really happening in Hong Kong? Well, Hong Kong was under British rule until 1997, when the city was handed back over to the Chinese That came with some caveats designed to establish Hong Kong as a “Special Administrative Region” of China with more self-representation, democracy and freedom than other regions under Chinese control The exact level of these freedoms was not explicitly laid out in the original deal and now there is some concern that China could assert more control over Hong Kong than expected That is the central issue of this conflict

The Occupy Central movement wants a high level of autonomy including full democratic elections by 2017, something that has been promised to Hong Kong since 1997 The Chinese Government wants a less autonomous Hong Kong and more control over elections China will most likely allow the 2017 general elections, but they also recently announced that the nominees will be selected by the Chinese Government So, Hong Kong would get the vote, but they’d only be able to elect the leaders that China wants This is what the Occupy Central movement was protesting and why this whole thing is coming to a head now

But that isn’t the only issue In 1989, the Chinese Military killed approximately 2,600 peaceful pro-democracy protesters in Beijing and other cities in China It’s known as the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre and it looms over the current situation The people of Hong Kong have seen how authoritative and anti-democratic the Chinese Government can be in some instances Many are worried that losing the freedom to control their own elections could lead to their losing Special Administrative Status

A possibility that the Chinese Central Government has already hinted at According to a recent report put out by the Chinese Government "the high degree of autonomy of [Hong Kong] is not an inherent power, but one that comes solely from the authorization by the central leadership" The Chinese Government is cracking down now because the people of Hong Kong are split on this issue Some, like the Occupy Central Movement, want to press the issue and maintain autonomy, while others are willing to make concessions to China in order to avoid conflict China’s aggression may be designed to force the general public to pick a side, but it is also a not so subtle reminder of what could happen if they decide to go against China

To find out more about China and their domestic policies, check out our video on Tibet and the conflict there Or click on our other box to see how Powerful China actually is on the world stage

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