Students Need to Pay Attention to What’s Going on In China

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An image of the protests in Hong Kong from June 16, 2019. This photo is reused with permission from Wikimedia Commons.

by Henry Carlson

Since March 31, 2019, the streets of Hong Kong have been filled with residents who have chosen to take up their right to peacefully assemble to protest the passing of an extradition law in China. The demonstrations taking place in Hong Kong are deeply rooted in Hong Kong’s long and complicated relationship with China.

From 1898 to 1997, Hong Kong was under British rule as a colony until the “one country, two systems” principle was formulated. With the “one country, two systems” principle, Britain handed Hong Kong over to China with certain liberties in tact. Hong Kong became different from the rest of China in that it was allowed certain freedoms such as access to the internet, right to free speech, and the right to peacefully assemble.

These rights are not present in the rest of China. This system was set in place to be revisited in the year 2047; however, the citizens of Hong Kong believed that certain rights were already being slowly dismantled.

On March 29, 2019 a bill was introduced in China that would establish a mechanism for transferring fugitives from China-controlled territories to the mainland. This bill was heavily criticized as chipping away at Hong Kong’s freedoms.

Media around the demonstrations has been heavily censored by the Chinese government with China cutting ties to many brands and individuals who have voiced support for the demonstrations. Awareness of these demonstrations and what they stand for has been low for many Americans. 

In recent interviews with students from the Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts), many revealed that they did not know as much as they would like to about the demonstrations.

“It’s more so what I hear from my teachers. I don’t know so much that I can really talk about it,” said student Keenan Coleman.

Other students agreed with Coleman in that they knew that the demonstrations were taking place but did not know the details. But Coleman said he thinks Americans should be aware of what’s going on in Hong Kong.

“I feel like we should learn about things that are going on around, because I mean, like, we are all humans,” Coleman said.

Genesis Rivera, another ChiArts student, agreed.

“I think that Americans should know because it could affect us in a way we did not see coming,” Rivera said. 

The students and staff interviewed were all in support of Hong Kong in their efforts to secure their freedoms. The demonstrations in Hong Kong continue even now against heavy backlash from the Chinese government who have used police force, and even the Chinese Triad. 

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