The Western world is not reacting properly to the months-long protests in Hong Kong. Is the time where we cared about — or at least pretended to care about — the promotion of democracy over?
If you don’t know a lot about the protests in Hong Kong this summer, then I don’t blame you. It seems that most Western countries mainly focus its interests on other people in the Western hemisphere. Here is a short summary of the situation in the former British colony.
In 1997, after more than 150 years, the British agreed to hand over control of Hong Kong to China. The two countries came to the agreement that Hong Kong would have its own mini constitution called the Basic Law until 2047. The arrangement is known as "one country, two systems," and it stipulates that Hong Kong will keep its capitalist economic system, will have its own legal and legislative system and that people will have more rights and freedoms than in mainland China.
Yet, all foreign affairs and the legal interpretation of the Basic Law are controlled by China. It is unknown, and a controversial topic, as to what will happen in 2047 when the agreement ends.
There have been multiple demonstrations throughout the years aimed at the increasing Chinese control over Hong Kong. In 2014, the famous Umbrella Movement broke out following a legal decision that the Chinese Communist Party has the right to pre-screen all candidates for the Chief Executive, the leader of Hong Kong.
Similarly, in June this year new protests erupted after a bill allowing extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China was introduced. Both instances were seen as a violation of the Basic Law.
To sum it all up, Hong Kong residents got to experience democracy when under British rule, and are now slowly, but surely losing those rights.
The extradition bill ended up being withdrawn in September, but now the protesters demand a transition to full democracy. Over 25 percent of the nearly 7.5 million population have joined the demonstrations, which have been going on every single day for more than four months. In September, the protesters started waving American flags in hopes of Western intervention.
In the second half of October, the United States House of Representatives and Senate are expected to vote on the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. The bill states that the U.S. State Department has to evaluate the human rights and democracy in Hong Kong every year, otherwise it will no longer enjoy the privilege of being treated separately from China when it comes to trade. Furthermore, it would make it possible to economically punish people responsible for extraditing Hong Kong citizens.