By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
For 155 years, the city of Hong Kong was ruled by Britain, before it was given to the People’s Republic of China in 1997. However, Hong Kong is an independent region with a different political system than the government in China’s capital, Beijing. So, when Beijing told Hong Kong residents that they can only vote on candidates pre-approved by China in the 2017 elections, massive pro-democracy protests broke out.
Despite police pushback and China’s attempts to crack down hard on the tens of thousands of protesters, they haven’t given up the fight for Hong Kong’s rights. China is also censoring online social media, tracking down posts from protesters and removing them. Images of umbrellas are especially being hunted down mercilessly, since protesters are using it as a symbol of the movement. Why? It protects them from police pepper spray, sunlight, and rain!
Leaders of the two main protest groups, the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Occupy Central, made a statement together demanding major government reforms. Beijing won’t back down, though, despite protesters blocking major streets and bringing the city to a halt. Since Hong Kong is a major international city of trading, the protests are applying strong economic pressure on China’s government.
One of the main leaders behind the “Umbrella Revolution” rocking Hong Kong is 17-year-old Joshua Wong. When he was just 14, Wong started the student-run pro-democracy movement called Scholarism, because Hong Kong’s government was trying to force classrooms to teach pro-China materials. The teen leader succeeded in preventing education from being warped by the People’s Republic of China, and looks to conquer Beijing again. “Five years ago, it was inconceivable that Hong Kong students would care about politics at all,” explained Wong. “But there was an awakening when the national education issue happened. We all started to care about politics.”
Images courtesy of Citobun on Wikipedia.