Opinion: Why you should care about the Hong Kong Protests

Noah Lieberman '21, Contributing Writer

In the beginning of October, I read a tweet from the general manager of the Houston Rockets. The tweet said, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” The tweet caused severe backlash, especially from China’s official basketball association, and was deleted immediately. I was not aware of any situation happening in Hong Kong, so I decided to go read a news article about the topic.

Since April of 2019, protests have rattled the city of Hong Kong. These protests are mainly the result of the Hong Kong Extradition Bill, which was proposed in February. The bill stated that criminal suspects could be extradited to mainland China.

Now for some background – what’s the big deal? The most important part of this story is to understand what the city of Hong Kong really is. Most people would simply state that Hong Kong is a busy and populated location in China, but what they don’t know is that this city is run on a completely different system than China itself. Until 1997, Hong Kong was actually a colony ruled by Britain, which was then returned to China. It would run under the “One country, two systems” proposal, which gives Hong Kong the ability to be self-governed alongside giving its residents more freedom. Hong Kong was given 50 years from 1997, until 2047, to act as its own freewheeling city before it returns to mainland China.

However, many acts over the years from China’s government directed at Hong Kong have caused residents of the city to fight back. They think that China is trying to regain control over the city far before the 2047 date.

Now let’s get back to present time- Protesters and freedom activists in Hong Kong believe that the Extradition Bill will subject the population of the city to violent treatment and unfair trials. In July, protesters stormed the parliament, and in August, the Hong Kong international airport became the next site of the violent protests. In September, the leader of Hong Kong formally withdrew the extradition bill, but the protests still continue to take place. The protesters are now requesting an inquiry into all police actions alongside complete democracy.

But how is this relevant to our life? From my point of view, most Americans live in a bubble. We see international news on television, and we hear international news on the radio. But unfortunately, most people don’t even put in a second to think about what they are watching and listening to. To be fair, I didn’t even know what was going on in Hong Kong until I paid attention to the world around me and found an article to educate myself.

Every day, I’m guilty of watching the news on TV, seeing important events spring up around the world and then read about terrible acts of violence. And I am ashamed to admit that often all I care about is what happens in the small town of Westborough. I’m so involved in my own bubble that I can’t even take a second out of my day to pay attention to global problems.

I think that it’s time to recognize the problems of the entire world as one. It’s time to really care about what we see and what we hear on the news, and not just go back to living our daily lives like there’s nothing wrong in the world.

Here is a place to start as these are the sources in which I educated myself regarding the Hong Kong protests.

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