By Katie Brinn
The scene in Hong Kong over the past week has gone from chaos to calm and back again, as tensions grow and pro-democracy throngs clash with pro-China demonstrators.
It all started on Sept. 26, when hundreds of students gathered in a courtyard in Central Hong Kong, demanding an end to Chinese oppression and control. China’s modern history with Hong Kong has been complicated, to say the least. For more than 150 years, Hong Kong belonged to Britain. Then in 1997 Britain handed the thriving metropolis back to China in a political deal called “One Country, Two Systems,” which allowed Hong Kong to maintain some of the freedoms and independence mainland Chinese people do not have, such as freedom of the press and the right to assemble. The people of Hong Kong would even be allowed to elect their own leader in 2017.
But this summer China started to backpedal. It announced to Hong Kong that those elections could proceed only if the Chinese government selected all the candidates. To the people of Hong Kong, that meant they wouldn’t have much control over their own government after all.
The students hit the streets, and thousands from Hong Kong rushed to join them in the days that followed. The Chinese government and the protesters have dug in their heels, and negotiations have failed. Now counter-protests from pro-China residents are complicating the situation.
To understand how the protests have escalated to this point, check out the video above, so as we watch the conflict develop, you can say, “Now I Get It.”