10 Hong Kong Protest Facts - WMNews Ep. 3

10 Hong Kong Protest Facts - WMNews Ep. 3

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Angela Fafard

It's known as the Umbrella Revolution; a stunning display of often-peaceful protests in the face of communism. Welcome to WatchMojo News, the weekly series from that breaks down news stories that might be on your radar. In this installment of WMNews, we're counting down the top 10 crucial facts you should know about the 2014 Hong Kong Protests.

Script written by Angela Fafard

Top 10 Hong Kong Facts

It’s known as the Umbrella Revolution; a stunning display of often-peaceful protests in the face of communism. Welcome to, and in this installment of ICYMI, we’re counting down the top 10 crucial facts you should know about the 2014 Hong Kong Protests.

#10: What Launched It?
History & Hong Kong Sovereignty

In 1997, Britain gave Hong Kong back to China in a transfer of sovereignty – colloquially nicknamed The Handover – after over 150 years of colonial governance. Currently, China rules Hong Kong under a “one country, two systems” formula that grants the city a degree of independence and freedom not enjoyed by Mainland China. That said, it was announced that in the 2017 elections, only candidates screened by the Chinese government would be eligible for nomination. On September 22nd, 2014 Hong Kong student organizations began protesting outside government headquarters, demanding democracy.

#9: Who Is Involved?
The Key Players

The main players involved in these protests are the student associations, young families and professionals versus the Chinese and Hong Kong governments, triad gangs and the anti-occupy movement. Students and younger citizens feel little in common with Mainland Chinese and want Hong Kong to become politically autonomous. Meanwhile, the opposition believes in keeping the new ruling of a Beijing-nominated electoral official.

#8: What’s the Economic Impact?
Economic Instability

The long-term impact on the economy is unknown as the protests continue to disrupt important retail and tourism industries. But, on October 10th, Goldman Sachs slashed Hong Kong’s fourth-quarter gross-domestic-product growth forecast to 2% from 2.5% due to lower than expected tourism spending. And, according to Yiu Si-wing, a member of the Legislative Council who represents the tourism industry, things could get even worse: in October he said that if the protests continue for another month, hotel occupancy rates could drop to their lowest levels in a decade, at 50%.

#7: What Makes It Unique?
Protesting with Purpose

The 2014 Hong Kong protests are distinctive in their attention to peaceful assembly, cleanliness and tech-savvy communication. Protesters found ingenious ways of dealing with the potential environmental ramifications of a protest, by organizing recycling stations and clearing plastic waste. To stay connected, protestors used FireChat, a cross platform cell phone app that allows people to contact each other without traditional mobile or internet networks, as it transmits from phone-to-phone via existing Bluetooth or Wi-Fi links between them. But, what gave the protests the nickname “Umbrella Revolution” was the fact that protestors began using umbrellas to shield themselves from pepper spray.

#6: Who’s Threatening the Protests?
Threats & Attacks

the protests continued, a sharp rise in violence was seen from police, triad gangs and anti-occupy opposition. Police exacerbated the situation by removing metal barricades set up by protesters and using pepper spray and batons to control crowds. Triad gangs were accused of attacking protesters while police stood by providing no assistance. The anti-occupy camp also includes many older generation Hong Kongers who are afraid of antagonizing the Chinese government, as they remember the bloody suppression of the Tiananmen uprising in Beijing of 1989, where upwards of 200 people were killed by the Chinese military.

#5: Why Won’t China Give Hong Kong Full Democracy?
The Bigger Picture

The communist party of China decided to provide semi-autonomy to Hong Kong as opposed to the full democracy to which the region feels it’s entitled. The Chinese government, and the election committee, want a candidate who is loyal to Beijing, and by filtering the candidates themselves they are ensuring that such a nominee finds his way to the ballot. This control is tempered by the knowledge that Hong Kong holds a special status, having been a British colony for over 150 years and continuing to enjoy certain liberties as opposed to Mainland China. China cannot allow Hong Kong full democracy, as other territories may demand the same.

#4: Notable Incidents
Ken Tsang Kin-chiu

On October 16th, 2014 a violent crackdown on protesters by the police led to a disturbing show of force. Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, a pro-democracy politician and social worker, was dragged away to a dark alley and beaten by what appears to be several plainclothes Hong Kong policemen. Unbeknownst to them, a camera was taping the entire encounter. The policemen were identified and suspended, while the police expressed “concern over the video clip” and promised to immediately investigate.

#3: What Is the Global Reaction?
Outward Influence

Universal reaction by country leaders has been swift and sure, with many saying Hong Kong should have the right to peaceful assembly, free speech and a democratic voting system. Due to the strong ties that Britain had with its previous colony, Prime Minister David Cameron has been extremely vocal in his concern for the welfare of the Hong Kong population.

#2: Who Is Leading the Protests?
Strong Leaders

While there are no official leaders of the protests, there are several active players. The first few are seen as moderate pro-democracy figures, law professor Benny Tai, sociologist Chan Kin-man and church minister Chu Yiu-ming. But, there are also leaders like Joshua Wong, who turned 18-years-old in the midst of the protests. Wong is a co-leader of ‘Scholarism,’ a student activism group, and has taken part in many protests. He’s a regular target for mainland China's state-run media, as he has drawn heavy criticism from Beijing. He has stated that the main value guiding the protests is non-violence.

#1: What is the Ultimate Goal?
Universal Suffrage

The current protest centers around two main demands: full democracy in the 2017 election in the form of a civic vote and the immediate resignation of current Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying. Hong Kongers are asking for the right to nominate and directly elect the leader of the Hong Kong government; the chief executive. They’re also calling for the resignation of the widely disliked leader Leung Chun-ying, as they feel he is prioritizing China’s interests over Hong Kong’s. But Leung has flatly refused to resign. As both sides stay strong in their opposing visions, the future of Hong Kong’s government remains uncertain.

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