Deputy Asia news editor answers YOUR questions!

Caroline Carter

I'm Caroline Carter, Deputy Asia news editor and Hong Kong correspondent at The Economist. I help to edit Economist.com and I also write about Hong Kong politics forThe Economist newspaper


Do the Hong Kong protesters have allies? If they do, why aren't they helping Hong Kong? Is it just Hong Kong’s and China's situation and they said to stay away from it, thats why? Or is there something else?

memorable_raccoon, New Horizons Children's Academy

Hi @memorable_raccoon Just as you have watched the protests on TV and online, millions of other people watched the marches in June and are worried about the way that the Hong Kong government and China are dealing with the people of Hong Kong. Activists in America, Britain, Canada and Germany, as well as lots of other places, have organised marches and rallies in solidarity with the movement.

Politicians in America are considering passing a new law which they say will force China to change the way that it runs Hong Kong. International organisations like the United Nations have also been investigating the way that the police have handled the protests.

But many countries and businesses make a lot of money trading with China. So they worry that if they offend the Chinese government, by complaining about what is happening in Hong Kong, then they will lose out. The basketball association in America recently had to apologise to Beijing for seeming to support the protests. That made Chinese people happy but it has also upset lots of Americans.


Activists in America, Britain, Canada and Germany, as well as lots of other places, have organised marches and rallies in solidarity with the movement.

Caroline Carter


Why did Britain want to make a deal with China about giving Hong Kong to China?

enthusiastic_assumption, Boutcher C of E Primary School

Hello @enthusiastic_assumption. When Britain took Hong Kong from China after a war in the 1840s, Britain it was one of the most powerful countries in the world. So China found it difficult to say no to what Britain demanded. But in the 1980s, when China decided that it wanted Hong Kong back, Britain was no longer as strong, so could not easily say no to what China wanted.

Hong Kong is made up of different parts. The largest, called the New Territories, was only supposed to be ruled by Britain until 1997. The other parts, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, were meant to be British “in perpetuity” (which means “forever”) but Britain couldn’t have kept those bits without the New Territories.

At first the British did suggest ruling Hong Kong for a little bit longer, but China wanted it all back. And even if Britain had wanted to keep on ruling Hong Kong, it knew that it could not beat China in a war. So instead Britain made a deal with China to ensure that the way of life in Hong Kong would remain much the same for 50 years.


Is Hong Kong a dangerous place to go now? What are the Chinese government doing about the protesting and the violence?

believable_introduction, Boutcher C of E Primary School

In answer to your first question: Hong Kong used to be one of the safest cities in the world. Since June, at the weekends protesters and the police often fight in the streets. It can be dangerous for local people who might get hit with tear-gas or other things fired by the police. The police also sometimes use their batons to hit people. The protesters start fires or smash windows, which is dangerous too. Sometimes they beat up other people who they disagree with.

So Hong Kong is much more dangerous than before. But for most people it is still a safe place to live. My advice to people who want to visit Hong Kong is that they should still come. But try to understand what the protests are about and how the police deal with them. You can normally find out where the rallies are going to be so you can decide if you want to join in or see them. For local residents it can be more difficult though, as the protests can happen right outside their houses.

And to the second: China’s government does not rule Hong Kong directly. For now, it has left the Hong Kong government to decide how to deal with the protests and the violence. Carrie Lam, the “chief executive”, wants the police to arrest more people who are breaking the law. Lots of the people who break the law wear masks so that the police can’t identify them, so she has passed a law which makes it illegal to wear a mask at a protest.

If China gets really worried about violence in Hong Kong then it could send in its own policemen or even soldiers to deal with the protesters. But for now, it is relying on the police in Hong Kong.


What did Hong Kong do to China to be in such a crisis?

storytelling_eel, Evelyn Street Primary School

Hello storytelling_eel. The relationship between China and Hong Kong is a complicated one.

China has ruled Hong Kong since 1997. But it agreed to give the territory “high degree of autonomy” (which means “freedom”) to rule itself for at least 50 years. Some people in Hong Kong think that China has broken that promise, by trying to take too much control and being slow to give people more democracy. Those people have been protesting peacefully in Hong Kong for decades. In 2014 young people tried a new form of protest, and camped in the streets for 79 days. This summer lots of people have marched and some have fought with the police and vandalised buildings.

China feels that it has allowed Hong Kong lots of freedom. And now it is worried now that some people want to try to separate Hong Kong from China. It doesn’t like the new sorts of protests but it is refusing to make any new agreements about Hong Kong. So the protesters and China (and Hong Kong’s government) are all determined not to give in. It is a crisis indeed.


China feels that it has allowed Hong Kong lots of freedom. And now it is worried now that some people want to try to separate Hong Kong from China.

Caroline Carter


What do you think will happen when the 50 years agreement ends?

intrepid_coconut, The Sherwood School

Nobody knows! I hope that after 2047 Hong Kong people will have the right to carry on living with the freedoms they enjoy now. To do that China could extend “one country, two systems” by another 50 years, for example.

China’s leaders make lots of money from having Hong Kong run differently from the rest of the country, because many countries feel safer doing business in Hong Kong than in China. If China decides that the money is important then it might let Hong Kong stay the same. But the Communist Party, which runs China, would like more control over Hong Kong. And also wants people in Hong Kong to feel closer to the rest of the country. So perhaps the party might decide to keep Hong Kong’s economic system the same but make its political system more like China’s. That could mean outlawing things like marching and protesting which at the moment are allowed in Hong Kong but not in China. Or changing the legal system so that criminals are tried in a different way. That would make Hong Kong feel very different.

What do you think should happen, intrepid_coconut?

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