HONG KONG: BEIJING FEARS NEW PROTESTS


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Over the past few weeks, officials representing the Chinese government in Beijing have put strong pressure on Hong Kong’s political leaders to enact security laws prohibiting the return of massive street protests, which rocked the city and surrounding area from March 2019 until the COVID-19 pandemic starting last January.
The increasing concern from Beijing comes as anti-government activists in Hong Kong are reported to be ramping up plans to protest again now that the city starts to ease the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Over the past five days, there have been no reports of new cases.
Currently, social distancing laws are still in place that limit any gathering of more than four people. Nonetheless, a protest did take place at a mall last Sunday, and police were brought in to break it up.
To intimidate any return of the massive protests, which rocked Hong Kong for over seven months last year, Beijing has made it clear that anti-government demonstrations would be considered treason and subversion.
The sole Hong Kong representative in the Chinese Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Tam Yiu-chung, stated last Saturday, “The previous arrests didn’t mean the forces have been completely curbed. We still need laws to safeguard national security.”
As we continually reported in the Trends Journal, the extensive protests that saw well over a million citizens take to the streets began in March 2019. They were in reaction to the Fugitive Offenders legislation bill, which would have allowed China to extradite suspected Hong Kong criminal suspects to the mainland.
On 15 June, Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended the bill but refused to completely withdraw it, which lead to an even larger demonstration the following day. Standoffs between police and protesters continued over the summer and into the fall with substantial rioting, property damage, and arrests. The movement’s issues expanded to include more democratic freedoms and less external control from the mainland.
In the November elections, the protest movement scored impressive victories, with anti-establishment candidates winning 17 out of 18 Hong Kong districts. As a result, the protest movement finally dissipated.
Then, with concerns over the spread of COVID-19 late last December into the New Year, Hong Kong has been quiet. But as the current pressure from Beijing to tighten Hong Kong’s anti-demonstration laws shows, there is still great anger and distrust against China among millions of Hong Kong residents who have continued voicing concerns online.
TRENDPOST: It is worth noting that the Chinese government, try as they might, was unsuccessful in stopping the Hong Kong protests… until the COVID-19 lockdown, which quelled the riots. To date, only for people, in Hong Kong’s population of 7.5 million, have died from the virus.
 As we have noted in the Trends Journal, nations across the globe that were in the grips of social unrest prior to COVID have been locked down, and the protests that were threating ruling governments have been prohibited, despite low death rates.

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