Students in Hong Kong take the streets

Thousands of protesters in Hong Kong have occupied the city’s streets since mid-September in hopes of achieving more democratic elections.

On September 22, Hong Kongese students took the streets of their city due to the Chinese Communist Party’s intervention with the city’s elections. Their protests started as peaceful sit-ins but turned violent when police began using tear gas and pepper spray to put down the protests.

The severe tactics used by the police only created more sympathizers for movement, and more protesters set up camp on city pavement.

The cause of the protests centers around the 2017 elections of the head of Hong Kong’s government: the chief executive. Under the current system, the citizens of Hong Kong are allowed to vote for chief executive, but only from a pool of candidates pre-selected by the Chinese Communist Party.

Many Hong Kongese, students in particular, see this system as completely undemocratic and have engaged in this protest to express their dissatisfaction and advocate for true democracy.

The man who initiated the movement is  professor of law Benny Tai at the University of Hong Kong.

One of the major organizers of the movement is student of Benny Tai and social advocate Alex Chow Yong-kang. Dissatisfied with the political state of Hong Kong, Chow not only wants to pressure the Communist Party into allowing free elections, but he also demands the current Chief Executive to step down.

The conflict around political control has roots in decades of touchy politics between Hong Kong and China. The islands that comprise modern Hong Kong were a British colony since the nineteenth century and were returned to China in 1997.

     During its century under British rule, Hong Kong was influenced by its trade-driven colonizer and successfully developed its own international banking and commerce. China, seeing potential benefits from Hong Kong’s profitable commerce, allowed Hong Kong to have some degree of self-rule and democracy that the rest of China does not enjoy.