What’s going on in Hong Kong?

In accordance with a declaration signed between England and China in 1984, England transferred its last great colony, Hong Kong, to China. In a grand ceremony, China officially took over Hong Kong on June 30, 1997, and has since become the Special Administrative Region of China by applying the “one country two systems” model on Hong Kong.  Hong Kong will remain under Chinese rule until 2047, with a semi-autonomous status for a period of 50 years from July 1997.

Today Hong Kong is a major city in the Asia Pacific region; and has integrated into the global economy, has become a major financial power, the world’s fifth largest foreign exchange market and the busiest port city of the world maritime trade. Hong Kong where is 7.3 million people living, has a vibrant economic market. Hong Kong is one of the most cosmopolitan and colorful cities in Asia-Pacific, not only economically but with a multi-cultural, multi-licensed structure. [1]

Hong Kong, the autonomous region of China; it always left China culturally, socially and politically. Today’s strong protests experienced previously incurred for different reasons. In August 2014, it was announced that the people of Hong Kong could elect their own leader, but the candidates would be appointed by a Beijing governing committee. Following this announcement, demonstrations were organized with the title of “full democracy” which started in September and lasted for 3 months. In these events, 518 people were injured and around one thousand protesters were detained. [2]

Today, there have been protests in Hong Kong since June. Thousands of citizens went to the streets to protest the guilty extradition bill for the extradition of Hong Kong criminals in China. The demands of these protesters are; the abolition of the extradition law, the laundering of arrested demonstrators, the non-use of rebellion blames by the government, an independent investigation into police interventions, and general voting in Hong Kong elections. [3]

In this Hong Kong struggle against China, protesters did not target Beijing with some exceptions. Protesters in their struggle; instead of complaining about Chinese President Xi Jinping, they demand the resignation of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam. Because Ms. Lam said that she had lifted the bill that protesters did not want, but refused to officially withdraw it. She also did not see the use of gas and rubber bullets against protesters as a problem. Her failure to apologize made the protesters even more angry. But Beijing will consider that Ms. Lam’s departure will be due to themself.

Police violence in Hong Kong began to increase day by day. The government did not conduct an investigation into the use of tear gas, plastic bullets and other weapons. Recently the protesters filled the airport for 2 days, starting on August 12, and all flights were canceled. But the protesters said they were sorry for the incidents that took place in one of the busiest airports in the world. In contrast, many citizens and groups from the business world have published a full page in the major newspapers to support the government and condemn violence. Hong Kong’s Chinese Securities Association of Hong Kong, on the other hand, said that if the violence and unrest were not stopped as soon as possible, the city’s international reputation would be seriously damaged.[4]

China made a statement on Wednesday (August 13th) that it resembled the events at the airport like teror events. On the other hand, many politicians and writers are discussing whether China will intervene in these events. Some believe that, if there is no interference, perception of Xi Jinping that cannot handle events in Hong Kong and will also adversely affect the image of “rising and powerful of China.”

Chinese media also strongly criticized the events in Hong Kong and did publications about need for more rigorous intervention. The Hong Kong government, on the other hand, has implied to intervene, but emphasized its confidence in the Hong Kong administration and police. Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian has made the following statement for this situation: “In the event of a request from the Hong Kong administration, the Chinese Army may intervene to maintain public order.” Ms Lam also said that if the situation in Hong Kong gets worse, the central government will not sit down. Nowadays, the question of whether the Chinese government will intervene has become a matter of debate. [5]

The Chinese government stated that the incidents between the police and demonstrators were signs of terrorism and that these events were supported by the West. Because in the sit-in at the airport, protesters beat two people from the police and journalists and this caused a reaction against the protesters. These events supported China’s rhetoric for protesters and negatively affected public demonstrations. Not only the media’s reaction, but the cancellation of flights at the world’s busiest airport has also caused serious economic damage. Despite all this, China’s intervention in Hong Kong will not benefit to China.

Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Assembly of China, reiterated the central government’s commitment to “one country two systems”, arguing that the people of the region would be confident in the bright future of China and Hong Kong. He also said that this practice cannot be changed and that Hong Kongers will not lose “their belonging and autonomous governance structure.”[6] Beijing is aware that military pressure in Hong Kong will cause more catastrophe in international relations than the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989[7]  but if necessary, force is subject to implementation.[8]

Hong Kong is China’s major international finance and business center, and as a special administrative region, has a privileged position in its relations with the United States and other countries. The transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997 showed China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Especially with the increasing tension of “trade wars” between the US and China since 2018, the rhetoric of the United States is the most conspicuous among the others states on the events in Hong Kong. During these events, China told the United States that it should withdraw its hand from Hong Kong, while US governments sent positive messages to the protests in Hong Kong, which further exacerbated the tension between the two superpowers.[9]

Finally, as a result of any military intervention in Hong Kong, China will lose its goal of “peaceful unification” with Taiwan. Any intervention would harm both China’s “one country two system” models and the peaceful concept. Moreover, when we consider global competition, such interventions threaten regional security. China cannot afford to lose Hong Kong because it also means losing Taiwan. Vice President of Education University Prof. Stephen Chiu Wing-kai said: “The young people’s resentment … does not stem from the anxiety over their personal lives but more from their pursuit of universal values and their distrust of the local and central government[10] Therefore, apart from the military intervention of China and Hong Kong, they need to respond to the wishes of Hong Kong’s citizens.


[1] Suner, A. (1997). Hong Kong: Sömürgecilik Tarihinde Bir Sayfa Kapanırken. Birikim Dergisi, 99.

[2] AA. (2016, May 19). Çin’den Hong Kong’a “Tek Ülke-İki Sistem” Vurgusu. Retrieved from Anadolu Ajansı:

[3] Korkmaz, F. (2019, August 15). Çin’in Hong Kong Açmazı. Retrieved from Anadolu Ajansı:

[4] Reuters. (2019, August 15). Hong Kong Crisis Escalating; More Protests Expected This Weekend. Retrieved from Reuters:

[5] Korkmaz, F. (2019, August 15). Çin’in Hong Kong Açmazı. Retrieved from Anadolu Ajansı:

[6] AA. (2016, May 19). Çin’den Hong Kong’a “Tek Ülke-İki Sistem” Vurgusu. Retrieved from Anadolu Ajansı:

[7] Tiananmen is the center of Beijing, the capital of China. China’s influence in reform process of Soviet Union led to Tiananmen Square protests. At the beginning of the events, students and workers had demands to reform. The workers stated that the system caused unemployment as a result of liberal reforms and wanted to increase state control. The students demanded a transition to libertarian socialism. The Chinese army did not have preventive weapons like plastic bullets at that time. Intervention with real bullets turned into a massacre.

[8] Jerome A. Cohen. (2019, August 13). The Crisis in Hong Kong: What to Know. Retrieved from Council on Foreign Relations:

[9] Korkmaz, F. (2019, August 15). Çin’in Hong Kong Açmazı. Retrieved from Anadolu Ajansı:

[10] Lam, J. (2019, July 12). Extradition bill crisis: Why are the young people of Hong Kong angry and deeply unhappy. Retrieved from South China Morning Post:

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