Conflict Alerts # 5, 17 August 2019
Hong Kong’s airport services were disrupted when over 1000 pro-democracy protesters marched at one of the world’s busiest airports, on Monday. The protestors arrived at the airport, to showcase the issues to a larger audience and also to protest against police violence in Hong-Kong.
China deployed its paramilitary forces and tanks in Shenzhen city, 30 km away from Hong-Kong on Tuesday. The build-up of the Chinese military on Hong-Kong’s borders has raised people’s concern about their security and safety.
A protest without-a-leader has engaged people of Hong-Kong together against the government, which resulted in the arrest of more than 600 people, has entered to its 10th straight weekend.
The protests began as an opposition to the Extradition Bill, which gives mainland China the authority to extradite Hong-Kong citizens, has drawn the attention of the global community. This is said to be the biggest challenge; China is facing since the 1997 handover.
The protest has entered a new phase where protestors demand the complete withdrawal of the Bill, amnesty for all arrested and the resignation of the Chief executive over police brutality on protestors.
Hong-Kong protests have divided the region into two parts, protestors and authorities. The protest escalated, be it flash mob or sit-in demonstrations, to preserve its autonomy, security and stability against Beijing interference. The ongoing protest has affected ordinary people’s life and the functioning of Hong-Kong’s economy.
China has called the protestors ‘terrorists’, and the military build-up at Hong Kong’s border, indicate an upcoming crackdown on protestors. However, China’s iron hand on Hong Kong, a former British colony, could result in the involvement of the international community and may loosen up China’s existing control over the city.
US-China trade war has already hit the economy of Hong Kong. The political unrest followed by Beijing’s interference may deteriorate business operations and investors confidence in Asia’s economic hub. Also, the US, in its broader geopolitics, could further use the Honk Kong crisis to its advantage to tarnish the image of China. Trump might use this opportunity to bring China on his terms to negotiate a trade deal, before the 2020 presidential elections.