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Questions and Answers: Hong Kong: It's about more than one extradition law

2019-08-14T14:10:05.375Z

TIME ONLINE | News, backgrounds and debates



Beijing / Berlin (AP) - The situation in Hong Kong is getting worse and worse. Activists paralyze the airport, China's government has armored vehicles at the border. How could it possibly come this far? The most important questions about the conflict:

Why is the situation at Hong Kong Airport escalating?

Protesters had protested peacefully several times in the last few days at the city's airport, without any restrictions on operations. The situation escalated on Monday and Tuesday as more protesters arrived than usual and targeted passengers blocked the way. So a sign should be set against escalating police violence. At the weekend, a demonstrator in the street was hit by a rubber bullet on the eye and seriously injured. Since then blindfolds have become a symbol of protests.

What do the Hong Kong protesters really want?

The mass protests began on 9 June out of outrage over a law that would have allowed for deliveries to China. Hong Kong's head of government Carrie Lam had declared the law "dead" after a first wave of protests. Government opponents want but a very formal decision. But even that would probably stop calm. The demonstrations have evolved into a broader anti-government movement and police crackdown on protests in recent weeks. Many people fear Beijing's increasing influence and demand democratic reforms.

Why are the demonstrators wearing umbrellas on the street?

The movement this summer is a continuation of the big protests in 2014, when thousands of Hong Kongers took to the streets for more democracy. The "Umbrella Revolt," as the movement was called because of the umbrellas used to protect demonstrators against the sun, rain, and police pepper spray, paralyzed parts of the metropolis for weeks. The leaders of the protests received exceptionally long prison sentences. Since then, the drive for self-determination and independence in Hong Kong is expanding - especially among young people.

Why is Hong Kong different from other Chinese cities?

Hong Kong has only been part of China since 1997. Before that, it was a colony of Great Britain. At the time of the return, a contract was signed to provide the Hong Kong people with more far-reaching Chinese rights on the Communist mainland for 50 years, that is, until 2047. Unlike in China, Hong Kong media are free and uncensored. Western websites like Facebook or Twitter are not blocked. Also, Hong Kongers learn at school without propaganda. "One country, two systems" is called this construct.

How is the conflict presented by China's government?

When the peaceful mass protests started two months ago, they were not mentioned at all in the severely censored Chinese media. Only when there were repeated riots, the protests were reported. Troublemakers plunging Hong Kong into chaos were first mentioned. Meanwhile, Beijing has begun to compare violent demonstrators with terrorists. Observers are concerned that this could signal a tougher crackdown.

Next threatens a military escalation?

At least, observers are alarmed. Beijing has always emphasized that the government of the Special Administrative Region and the Hong Kong police are in a position to restore order. However, the saber rattling becomes more and more threatening. For days, state media has been extensively reporting on exercises by paramilitary police units on the Hong Kong border. Videos show armored vehicles driving in a convoy. Shown were already martial images of soldiers stationed in Hong Kong, who practiced to suppress protests.

What does the federal government say?

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) warns against questioning the rights of Hong Kong citizens evidenced in the return of the former British Crown Colony in 1997. Given the recent tensions, "everything now needs to be done to avoid violence and to find ways of finding a solution within the framework of dialogue," she said on Wednesday in Berlin. The Federal Government is committed to such a dialogue, "but also on the basis of the laws in force in Hong Kong", which ensured freedom of expression and the rule of law. In the opposition, this course meets with criticism. Greens politician Jürgen Trittin said that the federal government must make clear to the Chinese leadership that there is no "business as usual" if China continues to escalate - appeals are not enough.

What does the German economy say?

So far, there are no serious effects on trade and business, said the foreign trade chief of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Volker Treier. At present, around 600 German companies are active in Hong Kong. Many have their customers outside the Special Administrative Region. Meanwhile, more than half assume that Hong Kong will continue to maintain its role as an efficient and attractive business location, provided the political situation does not persist and worsen. "Hong Kong has a significant importance as a bridgehead for the German economy economically strong Pearl River Delta, it was said in the Asia-Pacific Committee of the German economy. "It is important for the German economy to maintain the status quo with high standards of legal certainty and transparency."

Source: zeit

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