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Hong Kong’s Fight for Freedom Against China’s Authoritarianism

Hong Kong’s Fight for Freedom Against China’s Authoritarianism

The protests that have consumed Hong Kong for more than three months started because of a proposed bill that would have made it easier for mainland China to extradite citizens from this semi-autonomous city. Violent clashes between protesters and police culminated in a confrontation at a subway station on August 31st when police appeared to beat demonstrators with batons possibly resulting in one fatality, though
authorities dispute that claim. The activists, politicians, and academics we spoke with said that the protest movement has become about much more than the extradition bill, which the government has since withdrawn. It’s a fight for the survival of an island of liberalism in the shadow of an increasingly authoritarian super state with ambitions of global dominance. Hong Kong’s peculiar one country two systems governance model began when Britain handed over its former colony to China in 1997 on the condition that it be allowed to maintain its existing governance structure for another half-century. This city of more than 7 million prospered economically with China mostly holding up its end of the bargain. Hong Kong’s Constitution protects freedom of speech and assembly, but the city enjoys what’s been
described as liberty without democracy. The government, including the city’s chief executive, isn’t entirely elected by the people. If you did this interview with me in 1997 and asked me, when did you expect that people in Hong Kong would get this universal suffrage? I think most people at the time would say, well maybe 10 years. That was almost like part of the promise, in the basic law. But as time goes by, you know, promises were broken. Though he supports the universal suffrage, Charles Mok wasn’t elected by popular vote to his position in Hong Kong’s legislature but rather selected by a smaller pool by a smaller pool of stakeholders as an official representative of the city’s tech sector. Like Mok, the majority of representatives didn’t get there via the ballot box, and not surprisingly most members of the legislature who were not voted in by the citizens side with mainland China and not the protesters. As one journalist put it, Hong Kong is controlled by a conspiracy of local tycoons and mainland communists colluding against the citizenry. So the citizenry has turned to the streets. Largely because we are not a democracy. Because the government is not yet acted. I think street level protests, largely peaceful, are actually important means for the Hong Kong people to protest government actions. And protest has often worked. The 2014 Umbrella Movement led the government to withdraw a proposal to pre-select a limited slate of presidential candidates. And the recent uprising led to the withdrawal of the extradition bill. The 2014 protests also spawned a mostly youth-led movement to increase democracy as a way of preserving the city’s autonomy. Joshua Wong was just 15 when he led a successful movement overturning a plan to impose a pro Communist Party history curriculum in Hong Kong schools. He then started the political organization, Demosisto. Which has played a central role in the protest movement and even elected a candidate to office, who, along with other youth activists elected in 2016, were later disqualified from serving. At their swearing-in ceremony last month Sixtus Leung and Yayoi Ching unfurled banners calling for an independent Hong Kong. One of the more controversial youth leaders is ‘Sixtus’ Baggio Leung who is part of a right-leaning movement advocating for full independence from mainland China. But the problem of course is that there seems to be no institutional channel by which you can do this. And also I don’t see, really tangible movements to actually make that into a reality. So a lot of that is just talk. Leung’s pro-independence position is still considered radical in Hong Kong. And experts point out that Chinese state-controlled media often highlights independence activists in an attempt to portray the protests as part of a radical separatist movement in need of violent suppression. They’re using this sort of propaganda to cater to the domestic audience to justify for the kind of force they use on Hong Kong. Do you think that strategy might backfire on China? It is backfiring. More and more people in Hong Kong particularly opposed to young people are beginning to say that I’m only a Hong Konger. it’s all because of this action reaction the more you push the more I want to break away. We see the 96% of the entertainment scene silencing themselves and really just trying to keep out of trouble. Pop singer Denise Ho is one of the few local celebrities who is publicly supporting the protesters. Others like Jackie Chan and Liu Yifei,
the star of Disney’s live-action Mulan reboot, have praised the Hong Kong police and criticized the demonstrators for being too destructive. Right now we are at a point where the communist government they do not accept this stance of neutrality. For them staying silent means that you are with the protesters. They are trying to force everyone to choose a side. Most of the people they would be afraid to go against this huge machine because everyone wants a piece of the Chinese market. Ho has been banned from performing in the mainland. She says her records have also been removed from Chinese stores, and some of her international shows have been cancelled because of alleged security concerns. Mainland China detained employees of a Hong Kong bookstore known for selling literature critical of the Communist Party on dubious charges. Prospective candidates with certain controversial views are barred from running for office. Leaders of the protests have been imprisoned, and there’s talk of making it illegal for Hong Kong residents to boo the Chinese national anthems such as that this recent soccer match. The core values that we are safeguarding
are the freedom to speak our minds, to take our political stance to protest without fear of being prosecuted. That has been something that has been given to us in
the earlier days as a British colony. A lot of Hong Kong people think that like
15 years ago we had a higher level of freedom, of freedom of speech in or in in
various aspects. But now it seems that we can feel a Hong Kong becoming more and more like China. In terms of political values I always believe that one of
the biggest capture in Hong Kong and the Beijing government the emphasis on rough
law freedom freedom speech human rights and also maybe to a lesser extent
democracy. Activists see the fight for more democracy as a path to securing more Liberty. They’re demanding the citizens be allowed to fully elect the city’s legislative body and chief executive. But winning that right
requires approval from Beijing. It’s really not only about Hong Kong and
Hong Kong government or the communist government behind it, it’s really a fight of these universal values that we as a more hybrid city might be aligned with a
lot of different Western societies and then the set of communist values that
the Chinese government and maybe even other authoritarian governments around the world they are trying to bring into the world with their powers. Personally I feel this is a very global fight of these two different sets of values. The activists are also appealing for help from the US. Denise Ho, Joshua Wong of Demosisto and some other pro-democracy activists appeared before a U.S. Congressional committee on Sept 17th and urged US lawmakers to
pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would make the city’s bilateral trade and travel agreements with America contingent on China maintaining Hong Kong’s autonomy. It would also levy sanctions against
Chinese individuals accused of violating the rights of Hong Kong citizens and would instruct immigration officials not the punished visa applicants. who’ve been arrested for participating in the protests. With America already in a trade war with China such a move could escalate tensions but advocates say it would be easy for China to comply. At the moment I have to say
that I’m pretty pessimistic because it’s just so difficult to stop China from extending the kind of power and control that they wish for. particularly with the current leader of the country, Xi Jinping, it seemed to be a very much of a
total control type of mentality type of person. In a way I think many of us are
probably even thinking that what we’re trying to do right now is to slow down
the change in the wrong direction preserving whatever we got through one
country, two system at the moment. Despite that pessimism the movements
leaders say they have no choice but to keep fighting for liberty and democracy or else Hong Kong will be subsumed into an authoritarian state.

100 thoughts on “Hong Kong’s Fight for Freedom Against China’s Authoritarianism”

  1. Looking at the human freedom index as well as the economic freedom index, it looks like China is giving HK way too much freedom to have the territory topping the charts far ahead of the shining beacon of democracy that is the US.

  2. The portuguese order of República Riograndense (South Brazil's new country) is with you, Hong Kong, freedom is the best decision. China is going to the bankruptcy: Hong Kong independence, trade war, explosion of the bubble, asian economic decrease . Yes! More one tyranny is being defeated. A declaration from the Holy Portuguese Order for our friends from the independent country HK:

    "De um amigo leal, que Deus vos abençõe em vossa caminhada para a luz da liberdade."

    Goodbye, may God save you.
    Deus vult, sanctificetur pater noster!

  3. China has deep control in hollywood via tencent studios who own part of disney. This makes it easy to force actors into supporting them over jobs.

  4. This is just a CIA opp. Don't fall for it. I get that china is not super great but this whole thing is just a US power play against china

  5. Hong Kong university scientists have already invented the cure for SARS and MRSA, imagine what other achievements they can contribute to future humanity if they are allowed to live without fear, to thrive without humiliation? This is a tiny little nation with a falling birthrate, without the same resources as enormous countries like mainland chinese, yet they can still muster up some superior research.

    They would be making stuff beyond our very dreams, lengthening the human lifespan, maybe even doubling it, if they could study and perform research in a supportive democratic non-threatening atmosphere. They are extremely kind and cooperative people with so much heart and caring, unlike the arrogant mainland chinese. Hong Kong people are truly a treasure to behold, kind, intelligent, adaptable, and so creative, let them shine and bring all of humanity into progress and achievement.

    There is a narrow window of opportunity now to bring down mainland chinese, do it and do it fast, the second time around when the evil monster raises is face it will be quite difficult to bring down again. We have of course tariffs, an upcoming drought, possible famine, and of course the admirable Hong Kong resistance demonstrators taking to the streets. This is the chance.

    May the flag of England Great Britain grace Hong Kong's skies forever, the true banner of the human race, and may we all soar the word and support Hong Kong against mainland chinese.

  6. Really disappointed in Reason covering up all destructive anarchy of the large minority of rioting thug "protesters." I hate the communist party too, but I've been to Hong Kong and it is Hong Kong's version of Antifa attacking tax drivers and innocent commuters on a daily basis. They are also surrounding police stations and catapulting bricks and petrol-bombs at the buildings and police themselves… police who have been ordered to stand down and have made themselves human punching bags. Black shirt thugs have released personal address info on over 1,000 officers and gone to their homes to threaten their spouses and children.

    This is why some celebrities are criticizing the protesters, not orders from Beijing. My own aunts are afraid to walk the sidewalks of Kowloon at night, and it's not the police they are afraid of.

    Our own media are chop shopping the footage to push a "gestapo police brutality" narrative when HK police are showing restraint that would never happen in America or Europe. Sad that Reason is too. Video footage below as proof. This is Antifa on a gigantic scale.. Reason has access to all this too but ignores it.

    Disclosure: the next video by CGTN is funded by the Chinese government, but I don’t see how the video isn’t truthful or relevant. The attacks on cars trying to navigate the blackshirt roadblock is a carbon copy of militant “critical mass” bicyclists attacking cars in San Francisco.

    Then the police were called in an started making arrests.

    And yet this is what the Western press shows (in this case the Guardian). Pretty selective editing.

    Here's a report from the police themselves. Clever of them to put a white face on TV, but it also makes it harder to argue that HK police are just puppets being ordered around by Beijing (something I doubt, other than ordered not to spill any blood…at least until the PLA decides it's ready).

    Finally a summary from the editor of the South China Morning Post which I think is 100% spot-on with its balance… criticizing the Hong Kong government, criticizing the violent (not the peaceful) protesters, bemoaning that anyone who disagrees even the slightest bit with the protesters is condemned as a lackey of the CCP, and criticizing the press for editing out anything that doesn't make the violent protesters look like peaceful sheep.

  7. You never try,you never know.many HK citizens opposed the big trend of China prosperity without knowledge of mainland.deeply feel sympathy for them.time will tell

  8. US should annex Hong Kong, I’d visit. Would be good for tourism and the us could have a base maybe that’d be dope. Fuck China.

  9. Propaganda at its best.
    Misleading, one side story, covered and twisted journalism is the trend! I have been there saw what happened, talk to the locals! Dig out the all those bs, if you want to know what is going on, just pack your things go there join the mask gang!
    And I can tell you those HK rioters are nothing close to freedom and democracy from your imagination! Violent, chaos, drug, sex, anarchy, power, lies, faking everything up, they are the most dishonest PoS Ihav ever seen! They are more complicated and dirty than you can imagining, the most disgusting and hypocrisy movement under the banner of "freedom " and supporting by the US and Taiwan. And the voices from another side just banned, blocked, and silenced.
    It is just pure disgusting when your "freedom" and "democracy " become even more ugly and low than your opposition…
    how low will you fall? Freedom or free fall?

  10. Hong Kong is certainly a lost cause in terms of geopolitics. But it is a window of opportunity for USA to legitimately take on the totalitarian regime in China. And by making a scene, Hongkongnese perhaps are doing what they can to delay the inevitable – or at least to realize the motto “Leave free or die.”

  11. I'm curious. If you're so "concerned" about what's going on in HK, why hasn't Reason TV also done a piece on the Yellow Vests Movement? It's been almost a year and the casualty list of deaths and persons permanently blinded and maimed by the French police thugs is horrific, yet like most of the western press, you've completely ignored it.
    Meanwhile, you've jumped on the anti-China propaganda bandwagon with pieces like this. I thought all you "libertarian" types were against foreign meddling and sticking your noses into the affairs of sovereign nations? Or is that just hollow lip-service you pay when it suits you?

  12. Another US sponsored revolution on top of all the other atrocities they've committed

  13. Next milestone day 200!
    Mainlanders please leave.
    Pro-bejing supporters had been brainwashed and should leave too.
    Foreign organizations to choose either support the movement or leave HK.
    HK don't need your business!
    Mainlanders and pro-bejing organization are extremely slow learners, whatever happened to the resentment shown even before the UMBRELLA movement.

  14. these punks blabber about freedom but they have zero problem making other people’s life a misery…. Lowlives. Let’s hope those idiots are dealt with harshly and definitively. Lock em up

  15. I do not understand why Hong Kong SAR needs an extradition law to send criminals from Hong Kong to Mainland for prosecution. EXTRADITION LAW IS ONLY REQUIRED WHEN 1 SOVEREIGN NATION REQUIRES ANOTHER SOVEREIGN NATION TO ARREST A NAMED CRIMINAL TO BE PROSECUTED IN THE JURISDICTION OF THE OTHER SOVEREIGN NATION. Hong Kong is not another sovereign nation; Hong Kong is NOT SOVEREIGN ! Hong Kong is a village of People's Republic of China; that said where is the need for any extradition laws to arrest and prosecute criminals sent from Hong Kong ? Why not prosecute those "rioters" that have been arrested for breach of the law. Arrest them and bring them to mainland for prosecution and conviction. These are not school children that are causing civil unrest, as the Hong Kong authorities would have; these are hard core democracy ideologues, intend on creating division within Hong Kong society and must be charged and prosecuted according to the severity of the LAW. THIS IS WHAT RULE OF LAW MEANS.

  16. Fake , biased, misleading and fake information to portray anti China narrative in the pretext of freedom and democracy. Lucky for Hong Kong it’s in good hands. Safe inside China’s strong and powerful government otherwise it would’ve been turned into like the war torn places in the Middle East. No foreign power has the legal grounds nor the power to separate Hong Kong from China. That’s a fact for those who are engaging in some kind of fantasy that somehow Hong Kong would become an independent city of about 7 million would be absurd.

  17. you lose two generation already,why not take off your mask
    so free to throw petrol bumb/brick,fire ,destroy, attack the police and peoples who dont agree them, .lol

  18. China don't need HK any more. We are not the poor cousins who receive new year gifts from HKers.If these rioters are upset to see so many millions Mainlanders wealthier than they, what can we do. Bang your heads against the wall.

  19. Western propaganda again…2018 Cato Institute ranked HK third in the human freedom index, higher than USA and Great Britain. The fact is the so call democratic members in HK legislation stop all Beijing efforts to introduce cheap public housing and these are the same people (people appearing here talking about freedom) blaming Beijing. Sadly, a lot of the youngers fall for it, thinking they are fighting for freedom. Why so many? That is because they are the easiest to impressed upon and manipulate. Hack, that is why terrorist always go for young people to recruit.

  20. HK government has already withdrawn the extradition bill. But, these protesters are still protesting and have refused to start a dialogue, They are so stubborn and want unconditional surrender from
    HK government. The only way to stop this unruly riot is to arrest and put all
    of them in jail.

  21. China tyranny and oppression in HK! China censorship in HK. China is a big bastard. China: get out of HK! Singaporeans stand with you brave people of HK. Independence for HK! Power to the HK people!

  22. China is capitalistic (in many ways more than the United States) in its economic system, however they are still socially communists. They became capitalist to grow there economy to become more powerful and then they will become socialist-communist again economically once they feel like it is the right time to do so. They are dangerous. They know capitalism works and they are using it as a tool to gain power militarily.

  23. HK has a population of more than 7 million. Even if it's true that at the height of the protests 1 million took to the streets, that represents only one-seventh of the total population. In a true democracy, the minority cannot impose their views on the vast majority.

  24. rioters no rioting this weekend? this is weekly activity that I can not wait to watch those rioters destroy hk! beating anyone who doesn't agrees them,burn the railway! throw patrol bomb! using violent in the name of democracy!

  25. Typical fake news western media. They will never show u the footage of those violent riot thugs beating up anybody on the street who has different opinions. Never ever trust western media, that’s how u dig out the truth about something, that’s my advise

  26. 4:26 "they dont feel safe when they travel to hk"….. lol yes nobody wants to travel to hk right now due to the protestor movement – its more safe to travel to china than to hong kong nowadays. Man does this guy know what he's talking about??? he seems to think travelling to china is not safe kkkkkkk
    3:26 "Joshua wong overturned a communist chinese history curriculum" – yes, this is why hong kong has issues right now, the young generation has been educated in a western system with western values – chinese history is not even a compulsory subject – no wonder they don't think they are chinese and want independence.

  27. hk doesn't has any future because of hk is not longer important for mainland China! central government has not done anything to hk people,they should ask their local government! also what local rich people has done to them. I think they are against the wrong target. central government issue is 27 years away, currently issue is nothing to do with central government!

  28. These young protesters are confused and confusing…. They have been living under a British "dictatorship" for over 150 years and they didn't complain… let alone run riot….. Now, they see Hong Kong as the last bastion of freedom…!!. It's a puzzlement to me…..

  29. Charles Mok is a Hong Kong legislator…As such, he should know better… he should know that China did not promise (because it could not have promised) universal suffrage as demanded by the protesters. In fact, Mr Mok alludes to that when he says:- …. "that (universal suffrage) was ALMOST LIKE part of the promise"…. meaning, it wasn't actually promised…..

  30. Very disappointed at Reason TV. Every coverage on Hong Kong is biased and one sided and full of misinformation and selective reporting. The bottom line is that HK is a Chinese city. If they want to become independent, they should do it in a legal way. Barcelona have been trying to become independent for decades, and the Spanish central govt. has brutally cracked down on all protests and denied referendum. Reason TV has never uttered a word about that. What if there were separatist movement in California. Would the federal govt. allow a referendum? Would the federal govt. tolerate separatists? Look at France. Just today their arrested at least a dozen protestors for being ''violent''. Why isn't Reason TV talking about that? Why isn't Reason TV talking about WHO funds these HK separatists? There has been links to US NPO's and even CIA. Double standards is really despicable. You are all disgusting individuals. I against authoritarianism, but i am even more against double standards, deception and hypocrisy. I side with China on this one.

  31. These guys argue that there will be no future for the next generation if they don't take to the streets….They couldn't be more wrong…. If the youth of Hong Kong continue to run wild, they will destroy Hong Kong just as Mao's "red guards" destroyed China. China lost several generations because the youth went out of control….. a similar fate awaits the youth of Hong Kong….

  32. Clear and present danger for Hongkongers, these protesters are now terrorists. They want to blame China for what they are doing to Hong Kong and have invited foreigners and Latino Amerikans to invade or put embargoes on a China city. Shame on the anti China leaders and dumb asian followers.

  33. The few that crave power are the problem, all over the planet.
    This must change! The people far outnumber them, the people will wake up and the tide will turn.
    Or like a psychopathic jilted lover ,they will destroy everything? They have their weapons of all types.
    These are truly interesting times.

  34. That’s not freedom
    It’s anarchy
    The usa would not hesitate to shoot the rioters for throwing bricks n projectiles to the police !

  35. Excelent documentary….thanks deeply for sharing!!!  May Our Precious Creator of LIfe help these Protestors to achieve their goals and May the CCP change the way that they run CHINA….FREEDOM FOR ALL around de ENTIRE WORLD!!!!iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

  36. xi xinping is the type of man that would disown his daughter if she brought over a black guy. he only thinks in his own world. he is old and his ideology is old, just like putin. don't worry. they will be dead soon enough.

  37. Let us not mix words this is a fight of good versus evil, liberty vs tyranny, a fight to gain rights that are the rights of all the children of the earth and thus the inalienable rights granted by God.

  38. Ich sage, es ist stets legitim, immer und überall dort, wo Bürger von der Exekutive mit Kampfgasen beschossen werden, darauf entsprechend hart zu reagieren. Mensch/Bürger will oft gar nicht vergast werden und sollte deshalb nach jedem Gaseinsatz eine Cocktailparty veranstalten, also massiv, aber gezielt Molotowcocktails ausschenken… der Eintritt für Systemhuren ist frei … ACAB!


  39. I am not supporting or watching any Jackie movies! Liberals are hypocrites they want freedom but only for a select few! I hope the USA supports them I will do my part!!! They just want liberty and freedom!

  40. Of course, they have no future because they don't want to study and work hard. No skill, no brain and no money. These young people are losing.

  41. Anyway if the hongkonger cannot get along the system…just migrate to others countries…why destroy the city….I am sure US will welcome them even if they are penniless

  42. Trump has weighed-in expecting Xi to "handle Hong Kong in a humane way". We can only hope that he'll push the issue in the trade talks. Of course, America should stand with Hong Kong, i.e., if, we have any loyalty at all to the American Revolution & the democratic principles that it engendered. Plus, China's insistence that nobody from the outside can criticize or meddle in their "internal" affairs is risible. Nowadays, everybody meddles in everybody's "internal" affairs. That's what the U. N. is all about.

  43. The way I see that Hong Kong wants to be like Taiwan. I don't think it would happen; unless after WWWIII. In that case, we'll all be dead.

  44. Whether you elect politicians directly or not is hardly the root cause or solution to anything.
    The essential issue is whether individual rights are protected or not and if no one is talking about that, then this has been a wasted protest.


  46. HK has too much freedom now. Freedom to paint anything, break public building and facilities, attack civil, and threaten other people who speak up a different voice. HK needs the respect to the rule of law. HK needs the authority to enforce the rule of law. Arrest these thugs.

  47. I honestly don’t understand why all of a sudden these post colonial Hong Kong citizens start to care about freedom and democracy. Did British government ever give Hong Kong any democracy? History is written and you cannot argue Hong Kong ever had democracy, there was none. Hong Kong is starting to lose its halo after the mainland China open both arms to foreign investments since late 80s. ShenZhen for an example is starting to overshadow Hong Kong in many industries segment. I suggest people to actually learn the history of Hong Kong before they draw any conclusion for this matter. I have many friends and families who are living in Hong Kong and let me tell ya, that place is only for the richest. Their economy is basically consist of banks and developers. Nothing else can flourish on that land, it’s a shame. Hong Kong people need to realize one fact: you cannot overtake China and you have no money/economy to become your own country. The entire Hong Kong situation is much like a teenager who whines about his parents don’t give him freedom to do the things he like but at the same time he has nothing but a dream.

  48. Why you don’t complain about USA who wants dominate the world and creating suffering all the world over
    Latin America Syria Iraq etc
    Don’t spread biased reporting for the sake of making money from YouTube

  49. Hongkongers said, they are not Chinese, they are Hongkongers. Nothing is more valuable than independence and freedom. Hongkongers have nothing to lose. Fighting for their independence and freedom is the right thing to do. When it comes to fighting for independence and freedom, there's no such thing that is late or too late. Sometimes it takes decades or even a century to attain independence and democracy. Hongkongers said, they are NOT Chinese. Tibet, Inner Mongolia, the Uyghur autonomous region, Manchuria and Hong Kong have never been, nor will ever be part of China.

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