Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 98, 27 May 2020

Hong Kong: Protests flare up again against the passing of a National Security bill 
Harini Madhusudan

In the news 

On 22 May, at the National People's Congress, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced a security law "intended to prevent, stop and punish acts in Hong Kong that threaten national security, and encompass secessionist and subversive activity as well as foreign interference and terrorism." To this, the student activist Joshua Wong stated that he would continue lobbying to gain support from the other countries and said, "When Beijing announced the law, it was time to fight back." Prominent Democrat legislator Claudia Mo said the current political climate has driven opposition saying, "we have reached a point of no return in not trusting the government."  

By 24 May, the call for 'Hong Kong independence' as 'the only way out' echoed through the streets filled with protesters at the Causeway Bay shopping area. The riot police were seen firing tear gas and water cannons at the crowd whose protests were planned between Causeway Bay and Wan Chai neighbourhoods, leading to more than seven hours of scattershot confrontations. The police have revealed that they have arrested at least 180 people for unlawful assembly and four officers were injured. Major protests are expected from 27 May, when the bill will be tabled for second hearing at the legislative council. 

Issues at large 

This is the first major demonstration in Hong Kong after mainland China announced its plans to tighten controls over the territory with new security legislation and two issues can be seen: 

First, the protests in Hong Kong have sustained strongly in the past 12 months in the absence of government action, with "five demands, not one less," as their goal. These months' long protests helped elect pro-democracy candidates in the legislative elections. The leadership in Hong Kong or from mainland China did not take strong measures to put a stop to the protests. Though the extradition bill was shelved, only a handful of efforts were made by the Hong Kong administration to engage in negotiations with the protesters. The year-long protests have made a very strong impact on the status, economy, and security of Hong Kong and has drawn a lot of attention. 

Second, the introduction of the Security Bill have created an opportune space for the revival of protest. Carrie Lam in her statement on 26 May said that Beijing's proposed bill is not intended to trample the rights and freedoms and, "the best thing is to see the legislation in front of us and to understand why at this point in time Hong Kong needs this piece of legislation." The sense of urgency from China to table the bill in all likelihood seems that Beijing wants to ensure that the other regions do not follow the Hong Kong model. This is especially true for the case of Taiwan where the US is seen showing keen interest in its affairs. 

In perspective

First, while, the government is seen well prepared to take stronger measures this time, the crowds seem underprepared with the announcement of the anthem bill or the security bill. The focus of the protesters has moved towards the shopping centres because it is easy to gather despite restrictions on movement. Though the number of protesters is less and the public response seems weak, many of the supporters have stated that they prefer to express their discontent by boycotting businesses that are pro-Beijing. 

Second, the leadership understands that it is difficult for the protesters to retain the aggressiveness that was seen in 2019 and might be using the instability in the world to their advantage. The international response, on the other hand, has been minimal. Trump stated that he would take strong measures against China if the bill is passed, and the UK, Canada, and Australia have issued a joint statement saying they are "deeply concerned" about the proposed legislation.

Harini Madhusudan is a PhD Scholar at the School of Conflict and Security Studies in the National Institute of Advanced Studies

October 2021 | Conflict Alert # 447
The US: Protests against the Texas anti-abortion law
October 2021 | Conflict Alert # 444
Brazil: Anti-Bolsonaro protests across the country

September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 441
Yemen: Houthis continue to capture territories
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 439
Europe: Pride Marches in Serbia and Ukraine
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 437
Brazil: Protestors call for the impeachment of Bolsonaro
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 435
Guinea: Another coup in Africa
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 431
Climate Change: Hurricane Ida destructs the US Gulf Coast
August 2021 | Conflict Alert # 422
Europe: Measures to curb pandemic trigger protests
August 2021 | Conflict Alert # 418
Peru: Protests a sign of challenges facing Castillo
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 411
Wildfires: Siberia to the US
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 409
Bosnia: 26 years after the Srebrenica Massacre
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 405
Colombia: Two months of protests
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 399
Myanmar: New UNGA resolution
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 397
Myanmar: The Aung San Suu Kyi trial begins
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 390
Burkina Faso: Another massacre in Africa
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 386
Nigeria: Another mass abduction grips Niger state
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 385
Colombia: The protests continue
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 382
Israel-Hamas ceasefire: The long road to peace
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 380
Colombia: Three weeks of protests

May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 378
Israel-Palestine: Who wants what?
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 374
Yemen: The Battle for Marib rages on
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 371
Pakistan: Meetings with Afghan leaders
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 369
Israel-Syria: Continuing Missile Strikes
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 362
Iran: Another act of
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 358
India: Another Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 356
Global Gender Gap Report 2021: Main Takeaways

March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 353
Niger: 137 massacred in the latest attack by gunmen

March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 351
Yemen: Saudi Arabia announces ceasefire
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 347
Australia: Women fight against sexual violence 
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 345
The US: The George Floyd trial begins

March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 340
Syria: UN report calls for a complete ceasefire
February 2021 | Conflict Alert # 333
South Korea: The 'Comfort Women' issue returns to haunt

January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 222
Russia: Pro-Navalny protests turn anti-government 
January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 220
COVID-19: The Vaccine Wars
December 2020 | Conflict Alert # 200
India: Farmers' protests intensify as deadlock persists
November 2020 | Conflict Alert # 191
Pakistan: Anti-French protests called off
October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 174
Bangladesh: Protests intensify against sexual violence
October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 167
India crosses 6 million-mark in COVID-19 cases
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 166
Pakistan: The persisting polio problem
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 156
Pakistan: Targeted Violence continues in Waziristan
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 154
The anti-Racist Protests in the US: Between
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 148
Israel and UAE normalize relations
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 146
Bolivia: Protests against the Election postponement
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 138
In Iraq, the protestors return to the streets 
July 2020 | Conflict Alert # 118
J&K: Geelani's Exit and Continuing Violence
June 2020 | Conflict Alert # 105
Black Lives Matter brings the US to its knees
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 86
Libya: Khalifa Haftar announces ceasefire 
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 81
India: The surge in violence in J&K
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 71
Afghanistan: 300 Taliban prisoners released

April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 67
Syria: New UN Report on Idlib

April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 64
A lethal impact on the Refugee/Migrant Camps 
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 63
Indigenous Communities battle a complete wipeout 

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 51
Coronavirus & China: Fall in numbers 

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 47
Coronavirus & Nepal: In the second stage, cancels

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 44
Two Presidents in Afghanistan
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 42
'Aurat March': A New beginning across Pakistan 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 38
Sri Lanka withdraws from 30/1 Geneva Resolution
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 35
A ceasefire between Israel, Islamic Jihad in Gaza

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 34
Libya: rivals withdraw from Geneva peace talks
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 33
India: Violence in Delhi
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 32
Afghanistan: Seven Days of Peace
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 31
Climate Change Fallouts: Impacts the Bird population

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 28
Pakistan: Court convicts LeT founder Hafiz Saeed
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 27
Pakistan: Suicide terrorism returns to haunt Quetta

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 26
Afghanistan: The US-Taliban Seven Day Deal
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 24
Israel: Violence in post  Trump-deal
January 2020 | Conflict Alert # 20
Kenya: Al Shabab and a week of killings
December 2019 | Conflict Alert # 19
Citizenship Amendment Bill:2019

November 2019 | Conflict Alert # 18
Lebanon: PM Hariri quits, but protests continue 
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 16
Bolivian unrest
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 15
Hundreds protest in Haiti

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 14
Protests rock Chile
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 13
Hong Kong Violence: A divide within
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 12
Spain: The trouble in Catalonia
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 11
Turkey's Offensive in Syria

August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 9
Africa to be Polio Free
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 7
Myanmar: Teenage girls traded as brides to China

August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 6
Moscow Protests: Thousands rally in Moscow
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 3
Jordan Restores diplomatic ties with Qatar