Hong Kong’s huge protests, explained

The people of Hong Kong are out in the streets.
Hundreds of thousands are demonstrating against
a deeply unpopular bill.
But this is about a whole lot more than a bill.
It’s about the status of Hong Kong
and the power China has over it.
It’s a fight to preserve the freedoms people
have here.
And it all started with a murder.
On February 8, 2018, a young couple, Chan
Tong Kai and Poon Hiu-Wing, went from their
home in Hong Kong to Taiwan for a vacation.
They stayed at the Purple Garden Hotel in
Taipei for nine days.
But on February 17th only one of them returned
to Hong Kong.
There, one month later, Chan confessed to
murdering his girlfriend, who was pregnant
at the time.
But there was a problem.
Hong Kong authorities couldn’t charge him
for murder, because he did it in Taiwan.
And they couldn’t send him back to Taiwan
to be charged,
because Hong Kong and Taiwan don’t have
an extradition agreement.
So in 2019, Hong Kong’s government proposed
one: it would let them transfer suspects to
Taiwan so they could be tried for their crimes.
But the same bill would also allow extradition
to mainland China.
Where there’s no fair trial, there’s no humane punishment,
and there’s completely no separation
of powers.
And that’s what sparked these protests.
China and Hong Kong are two very different
places with a very complex political relationship.
And the extradition bill threatens to give
China more power over Hong Kong.
See, Hong Kong is technically a part of China.
But it operates as a semi-autonomous region.
It all began in the late 1800s, when China
lost a series of wars to Britain and ended
up ceding Hong Kong for a period of 99 years.
Hong Kong remained a British colony until
1997, when Britain gave it back to
China, under a special agreement.
It was called “One Country, Two Systems.”
It made Hong Kong a part of China, but it
also said that Hong Kong would retain
“a high degree of autonomy,” as well as democratic
freedoms like the right to vote, freedom of
speech, freedom of the press, of assembly.
And that made Hong Kong very different from
mainland China, which is authoritarian: Citizens
there don’t have the same freedoms.
Its legal system is often used to arrest,
punish, and silence people who speak out against
the state.
But according to the agreement, One Country,
Two Systems wouldn’t last forever.
In 2047, Hong Kong is expected to fully become
a part of China.
The problem is, China isn’t waiting
for the deal to expire.
Under the rule of Chinese leader Xi Jinping,
pro-democracy leaders have already been arrested
in Hong Kong.
And mysterious abductions of booksellers have
created a threat to free speech.
But Hong Kong has been pushing back.
In 2003, half a million Hongkongers successfully
fought legislation that would have punished
speaking out against China.
And in 2014, tens of thousands of protesters
occupied the city for weeks to protest China’s
influence over Hong Kong’s elections.
Now, Hong Kongers are fighting the extradition
because the bill is widely seen as the next
step in China’s encroachment
on Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The sheer size of these protests shows you
just how much opposition there is to this bill.
But if Hong Kong’s legislature votes on
the bill, it’ll probably pass.
And that’s because of the unique nature
of Hong Kong’s democracy.
For starters, Hong Kong’s people don’t
vote for their leader.
The Chief Executive is selected by
a small committee and approved by China.
And even though they’re the head of the
government, they don’t make the laws.
That happens here.
Like many democracies, Hong Kong has a legislature,
with democratically elected representatives.
It’s called the Legislative Council, or
LegCo, and it has 70 seats.
Within this system, Hong Kong has many political
parties, but they are mostly either pro-democracy
or pro-China.
In every election, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy
and anti-establishment parties have won the
popular vote.
But they occupy less than half of the seats
in the LegCo.
This is because when Hong Kongers vote, they’re
only voting for these 40 of the 70 seats.
The other 30 are chosen by the various business
communities of Hong Kong.
For example, one seat belongs to the finance
One seat belongs to the medical industry.
One belongs to the insurance industry.
And so on.
Many of these 30 seats are voted on by
And because big business has an incentive
to be friendly with China, those seats are
dominated by pro-China political parties.
When Hong Kong was handed over to China in
1997, Hong Kong and China made an agreement
that eventually, all members of the council
would be elected by the people.
But that never happened.
And ever since the handoff, pro-China parties
have controlled the LegCo, despite having
never won more than 50 percent of the popular
The way it’s structured, they want to make
sure that the executive branch
can have easy control over it.
And that would serve Beijing very well indeed.
Within this unique structure, the extradition
bill has created new tensions and fueled anger
among pro-democracy politicians.
And it’s driven hundreds of thousands of
Hong Kongers into the streets.
While this isn’t Hong Kong’s first protest
against China’s influence, it is the biggest.
And many say this time is different, because of the people involved.
Professionals like lawyers and politicians are participating.
Our legal sector staged their biggest ever protest parade.
But it’s young people who are at the forefront,
since they have the most to lose.
They are the first generation born under One
Country Two Systems.
And in 28 years when that arrangement ends,
they’ll be Hong Kong’s professional class.
I won’t be around anymore.
It’s their future.
It’s their Hong Kong. They have every
right to fight it.
The protests have convinced Hong Kong’s
government to suspend the bill.
But that’s not enough.
Many want the bill withdrawn completely.
That’s because these protests are also part
of a larger fight.
To push back against China’s encroachment
now, not just when time’s up.
2047 is on its way.
But it’s not here yet.
And until then,
Hongkongers still have a voice.
History will tell whether we succeed,
but even if we failed,
history would say they did put up a fight and they didn’t just take things lying down.
And that’s what we’re trying to do too.


  1. UPDATE: Protesters in Hong Kong forced their way into the legislature on July 1, taking over the building on the 22nd anniversary of the city-state’s handover from Britain to China. The occupation is likely a turning point in what have been relatively peaceful — and powerful — demonstrations. Read more: https://www.vox.com/world/2019/7/1/20677066/hong-kong-protests-legislative-council

  2. I am a Hong Kong teenager born after the handover. I had experienced the 612 protest on the front line. It was horrible what the government did to us. I will never forget this day

  3. Hong Kong is doomed. It’s not a country. Just another Chinese city now. I feel sorry for the people who have enjoyed complete freedom for over a century in Hong Kong who will have to submit to China’s rule. I emigrated in 1980. I was one of the lucky ones.

  4. Some how wearing dem gears make them look more like terrorists. Man ….the Chinese are weird when they come to prostests

  5. UK never gave Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia one person one vote before they pull out from the colony. Chris Patten(the last Hong Kong governor) is calling the Hong Kong protesters(less then 50% of the total residents) to demand for it. He asked you to demand something he did not give you when he is in charge. The protesters are so happy to see Chris supports them. Is this some kind of joke?

  6. I live in mainland China and I'm more than happy if people in hk win the fight and stop the bill. murderers, rapers, all kinds of criminals, can simply escape to HK, become a radical factor in HK, but no more threat to myself, meanwhile I can save some tax money for prison.

  7. Ask yourself WHEN did you have your protest rights while UK ruled HongKong, if you don’t wanna be Chinese then get out of China cause we don’t care 🙂

  8. I have heard voices from the both sides, and I only agree with both sides ideally.
    Realistically, I support China take control of Hong Kong back from the foreign powers. All systems have flows, what is the key here is the one China policy. Without it, China is in Chaos, and the world is in chaos.
    So let's go China, you have given away too much to the so called democracy, time to make things right.

  9. 东方文化里没有反政府这一说。 国家,先有国才有家。 西方人不会明白。

  10. Breaking into council building is against the law. Try this in your beloved America and England, see if you get rubber bullets or something else. This isn't brave. I feel like this young generation in Hong Kong is emotionally manipulated.😢 And I feel sorry for them. How come this extradition law is a violation to "two system"? From my perspective, it is exactly a proof of respect. If a coutry needs to arrest a criminal, does it necessarily have to be an extradition law? Nevertheless, this extradition does not involve political criminals and it has to be approved by the government of Hong Kong first and more specific conditions, which donot affect your so called freedom in any manners. I see this a very appropriate and fair law to protect people in Hong Kong from hazardous criminals. Think about those victims' families please. Oh, are you gonna say the Chinese government will just make up an excuse to arrest you. But why?
    Or just admit it, you simply are antichina and choose to be blind to those tragedy. Who will comfort those families who lost their love? Is "Heaven of Crime" you really want?
    Please be more rational. And it doesn't make you superior for being antichina.

  11. 2 System 1 Country, not going to last and this protest was forseen.

    Hong Kong technically belongs to China. In a way, Hong Kong is a spoiled brat because that's 99 years of British democratic system. Now, for them to give up that democratic process and completely give up their democracy? That is potential conflict and spells for civil war in Hong Kong some day. HOWEVER. China is wrong. China violates human rights. China is Communism full of corruption where their officials are elected through ties and no fair election process. China's total surveillance, total control and cultural genocide are recipe for eventual downfall of their regime. China's surveillance program will be heavily targeted for an attack.

  12. A bit of history was missed out or mis-represented : China lost 2 major wars fought over China did not want the West to import Opium into China destroying Chinese lives for the sake of the Western nations profiteering huge profits at the expense of Chinese becoming addicted to British opium. This was how Hong Kong island + Kowloon were ceded to the British – and in the war to re-take Hong Kong back, China lost against the united Western powers – so that it lost the New Territories for 99 years lease to the British.

  13. Today HK tomorrow Taiwan then Tibet and so on.this is USSSSR 2.0 all over it far overdue.democray to HK at any costs never ever be part of china

  14. We talk about keeping a safe and secure society for legislation of catching the criminals. They, the paraders, distort original intentions. To understand the truths , we don’t need to do as they destroyed the traffic and buildings with violence. As a matter of fact, these mobs can’t represent the whole group and even the majority. Now we’re fear if they will even ruin Hong Kong. This is not funny, but foolish.

  15. According to a redditor I forgot the name of a video released by the Hong Kong government about the violent protest was taken before the protests themselves started which were never meant to be protest. This means they likely planted people to cause this to go from a peaceful protest to a violent protest. There is proof and everything

  16. I appreciate Vox for covering this topic in America while many other networks and channels will not. This has been such an important event for those in Hong Kong, as well as those of us who are living in other countries, but still have roots in Hong Kong.

  17. 99.99% of people shouldn't be effected by this law, yet now 99.99% of people are effected. WHY? Those people who incite other people to go to protest should be sentenced.

  18. Democracy is good and countries like China their government system is flawed and oppresses human beings anc their rights.

  19. Why they are afraid of China? Now, China has changed a lot, ordinary people have more rights and are treated fairly than ever before.

  20. You can change nothing ! Just do your own works and follow the rules, otherwise you won't have a nice ending.

  21. They can't not arrest sever million people of Hong Kong. So don't back down. Just keep moving forward, the people of Hong Kong will win.

  22. My grandpa: China is in the right
    Me: no. Hong Kong is in the right
    What eventually happens: legit just noise.

  23. Woaaahhh… And here I thought all this time Hong Kong was already part of the China since its within its territory. After this video I understand why they don't want this bill to pass and how it will affect them in the future. 🤔😮 I don't really get why would the British give a timeline in order for China to take Hong Kong back, what was the purpose??

  24. I don’t blame China. In America we Mexicans are trying to take back what was ours. Hong Kong can go back to British oppression colonial slavery

  25. Last time is Syria, this time is "The people of Hongkong", when they represent me, a hongkong resident? rofl. Time to tell, no need the time to tell, it is rioter and there is no massacre in Tianman square 6.4. Hongkong government will not be hijack by your violent.

  26. 煽动无政府主义会自尝苦果。新闻自由也不是编造新闻。你们越这么做就越难教育自己的孩子。

  27. I wonder if Hong kong can survive without China. Basically Hong Kong citizen have to decide for themselves what kind of model they want for their state. Capitalism vs socialism. if they are unhappy about cost of living, then they should adopt socialism model. Cut back on land sale revenue and focus more on sustainable tax model. What is that Hong Kong is protesting for the sale of protesting without any concrete thought what they really want.

  28. That construction worker guy is a mole… You wanna fight China and yet you speak Mandarin while the other two fellas spoke Cantonese which is Hong Kong's lingo…. Maybe because their education has slowly eroded Cantonese and replace it with Mandarin…. hmmmm.. should protest against that as well….. I remember a time where Hong Konger don't just not speak Mandarin, but don't know…. It's like not being able to speak Spanish….

  29. HK’s fall should blame the media and young people themselves. The future will tell the truth. You can misled and fool the people once but not all the time.

  30. If hong kong always do it like this.Feel free to protest, without thinking.Being misled and not conscious, I believe that Hong Kong will not have a future.Therefore, I think that any Hong Kong youth who are interested in continuing to develop themselves will still leave Hong Kong. Because Hong Kong has long been overweight by Western and local interest groups, there is no future.Some people say that the fugitive offenders will do so. Hong Kong has lost its status as a legal independence. I think that the first fugitive offenders Ordinance should be clearly marked on the draft and the right to decide whether to extradite is in the hands of Hong Kong judges. In the hands of the mainland, this is one of the two. After many years of development, the level of the legal system in the mainland, you or the inland areas has also increased significantly.On this serious issue, if you want to have objections, you need to produce evidence, evidence must be and it is true evidence.Those who want to know these things, I suggest you collect information from many aspects and think about the problem from more angles, such as this time.Finally, I wish Hong Kong good luck.God bless Hong Kong.

  31. If the policy on the welfare of houses, education, medical support and basic amenities were distributed well, which are basic necessities that comfort the soul of Hong Kong people, things could be managed at a different evel.

    The identity of who they are and where they sit, especially the younger generation towards their future, is what brought forth a bottled up and escalated frustration that triggers the crisis.

  32. As a 30-year-old Chinese, I just finished my postgraduate studies from a university in Hong Kong. To be honest, I really don’t like the castration standards of the mainland. As a result, our news is blocked. What I understand is the truth that the government let me know, but My salary level has really advanced by leaps and bounds, and the quality of life has improved a lot. Compared with Hong Kong people, it seems like we don’t have the power to resist anything. It seems that we are used to living under such a form. I certainly respect everyone’s decision,but what I have to say is that young people in Hong Kong need to work harder, not just shouting slogans. They need down-to-earth efforts, and they need the local strength in the economic, technological, and industrial chains. People who can change something may be on the street. Politics is really complicated, but life is real, it’s our own. Our generation is actually trying to change something, I do love China, because it’s my country, I also hate the policyholders, hope you guys can understand my standpoint.

  33. everytime i watch whats going on in hk it just makes me want to cry… I don't want my home to be destroyed… and my people to be hurt…

  34. Arrest all these protesters, and send them to labour camps in China! Why should you worry about extradition law if you do not commit any serious crimes in China? Does Hong Kong has extradition laws with UK or US?

  35. Don't blame the protestors.

    Blame Carry Lam for waiting until the protestors to get violent to scrap the bill.

    Essentially sending the message, "Violent protests are what's required to get us to do something."

    Which manipulates the protestors to continue violence, attempts to get the international community to side with Carry Lam.

    One of the most disgusting strategies I've ever seen. How to manipulate democracy 101 – annihilating dissenting voices by making your opponent produce actions of negative sympathy.

  36. 要不是因为我是中国人,看了这视频我说不定还真的就信了。。。太颠倒黑白了。。。

  37. i really don't get this, the law is about extradition which many many countries have in the world, if Hong Kong wants to be viewed as an independent nation, I think this is what they are trying to achieve here, cuz none of them will admit they are Chinese, then this is something as a nation should consider, if not, then you are basically encouraging your nationals to commit crime overseas then come back because your homeland will protect you?

    And there's been no mentioning of how the murderer should get trialed but somehow made this into a Hong Kong vs mainland independence argument? it's not even related, and for those that are protesting so much about Hong Kong potentially "fallen", how's that even relevant to this case? I just want to know what happened to the murderer and what's Hong Kong government prepared to do about it? I mean if you are a law biding citizen, extradition or not, why would it bother you? Plus the guy killed someone in Taiwan, not even mainland China, I really don't understand how they make this into an issue with China, i mean extradition law will not be limited to just China only right?

    And the logic don't even make sense here, what if someone from Hong Kong killed someone in China or vise versa, someone from China killed someone in Hong Kong? What's going to happen then? Just forget about it because Hong Kong desperately don't want to be associated with China? And what about other nations that Hong Kong deals with? If any crime gets committed, what's going to be the solution? Honestly, to me if anyone that should be protesting, it should be Taiwan, the man committed murder on their soil and they can't do anything about it because no extradition in place, then somehow he manage to fly back to his homeland, next thing you know, you have the whole nation's hothead trying to protect him for their rights??? A women died here, how's that related to a nation's future or how's that even a democracy argument? What are you going to say to the women's family? And she's pregnant with a child, I don't know about other countries but here in the states, the guy would be charged with first degree murderer without a doubt plus he already admitted to the crime, he would be looking at life sentence possibly without parole too, and here we are everyone arguing about independence against mainland China, what happened to all these people's senses? Please tell me the guy has been arrested and being charged and trialed for murder? Cuz no news media in HK seems to care?

  38. It's a good thing that under British gov't every 'HKer' is quiet and obedient and productive, I think British 'democracy' largely contributed to it. It is funny when HK people think west does not have a tendency on press and news sector and everyone has a say in choosing their leader. In China, you have no freedom of speech, you cant protest against the gov't. In the US, you can and somebody does, and you will end up being charged with defamation and end up in prison anyway. The only difference here is that US is still stronger than China and probs still better at telling lies than most of countries.

  39. For a very long period before 1997, Hong Kong has no democracy under UK. If the change of 1997 never happened, do you believe Hong Kong would get more autonomy than now?

  40. Lego structure is wrong they are Not all pro Beijing, do your homework ! N they are Not all corporations, more are professional bodies. Dont fool ppl.

  41. I find it ridiculous how in this video, it uses “pro-democracy” vs “pro-China”. And also the border is between the mainland and Hong Kong, not “China and Hong Kong”.

    I respect the people’s right to peacefully protest. But what’s happening now in Hong Kong is violent. Many innocent police officers are getting hurt. The method the protesters are taking can’t be encouraged.

    After all, Hong Kong is a city of China. Not only by politics, but also getting economic and living support from the mainland.

    I have friends from Hong Kong, but I was also swore at by a Hongkongnese for being Chinese. Issues like these are far more complicated than what the protesters have got to say.

    Media has strong power and they know it. But the audience can sometimes be unaware of the media’s influence. Please make sure, at least, you get your geography right before you tell a sensitive story like this. Stop being manipulative.

  42. I know this has become a political issue however can’t help but wonder what is the feeling who’s parents of that pregnant lady that has been killed by the boyfriend. So the boyfriend has a jail free card because of this? Can someone explain to me?

  43. So British made sure the two upcoming super powers China and India have internal issues, hmm..interesting.

  44. Always Remember America and Britan like to Divide and Rule…Their democracy means weak and corrupt govt…Never get Influence by them.

  45. 2:39…ceding Hong Kong for a period of 99 years… sigh does she even know what she is saying? Hard to watch past this ignorance. Part of Hong Kong was ceded (given *forever*) and part was leased for 99 years.

  46. British took Hong Kong island and Kowloon and leased the New Territories. To say British leased Hong Kong is incorrect.

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