Hi Burnet News Club! My name is Masato Kajimoto. I teach journalism at the University of Hong Kong. As a university professor, I study news reports and analyse the ways in which the media affect our understanding of what’s going on around the world. Hong Kong is my home and I am really glad to have this opportunity to answer your questions.
How do you feel about all this protesting and all the people going who are going on to the streets? Are some of them doing whatever they whatever they feel like doing?
Involved_watermelon, Boutcher C of E Primary School
No, protesters are not doing whatever they feel like doing.
Many people took to the streets in Hong Kong in June because they were worried that their basic rights and freedom would be taken away with the proposed amendment to the fugitive law the government had introduced.
The demonstrations were mostly peaceful at the beginning, but things got escalated as their demands were largely ignored by the government. Some protesters started to resort to violent means, vandalizing government buildings, burning Chinese national flags, and attacking the businesses that support the government.
The confrontation between the police force and the protesters are very intense now. Both sides are exceedingly aggressive.
I am sure you have seen some news videos that show the protesters smashing windows, throwing petrol bombs, and torching train station gates, which might have given you the impression that some protesters are “doing whatever they feel like doing.”
Their purpose is to make their voices heard, although not all people in Hong Kong agree with such a drastic strategy. So, if you look closer, you know their actions are based on set targets.
I believe you have also seen extremely brutal treatments of the protesters by the Hong Kong police officers as well. The society in Hong Kong is divided right now and the problem is, both sides believe that their actions are justified.
There are 7 million people living in Hong Kong; each one of us has different views and feels differently about what is going on. It is hard to generalize how people feel, but no, protesters are not randomly destroying our city.
Are journalists in Hong Kong focusing on democracy when they report this matter?
Wondrous_bee, Brompton Westbrook Primary School
There are thousands of journalists from all around the world covering what is going on in Hong Kong.
There are many things to report about and it is not possible to generalize what those journalists focus on. Yes, some reporters discuss democracy, but others write about different aspects such as economy.
Journalists call what they focus on in their stories “news angles” and there are multiple angles to a big news event like the protests in Hong Kong.
For example, how primary school students and teachers are affected by the social unrest is one of those angles. Decreasing number of tourists who would like to visit our city is another angle.
So, no, not all journalists pay attention to democracy when they report.
Journalists call what they focus on in their stories “news angles” and there are multiple angles to a big news event like the protests in Hong Kong. For example, how primary school students and teachers are affected by the social unrest is one of those angles. Decreasing number of tourists who would like to visit our city is another angle.Masato Kajimoto
Do you think that the many protests are really worth the hassle and do you think the government will listen to the things Hong Kong are wanting to do?
Accomplished_reality, Faringdon Community College
This is a really difficult question to answer. So far, the government has not indicated in any way that they plan to address the demands made by the protesters. In fact, it invoked colonial-era Emergency Regulations Ordinance on October 4th, toughening its stance against the protesters.
It is uncertain, or not likely, at this stage that China will let Hong Kongers to have genuine universal suffrage (the right to vote) or the Hong Kong government will establish an independent commission of inquiry to investigate police officers for their alleged abuses of powers, for example.
Therefore, some people say protests are not “worth the hassle” because it doesn’t look like they will achieve anything. But on the other hand, freedom of assembly is a guaranteed right in our city. A street protest is one of the very limited options people have to express their political views under the current system — which is not democratic by any definition.
We cannot choose our own leaders or Legislative Council (the Hong Kong parliament) members by free election. When there is no real representation of people in the decision-making process, some could also argue, it is worth making a noise to let the government know what you would like them to do for the city.
Whether protests are worth or not is a complicated matter. It is not a question I can answer with yes or no, unfortunately, but it is something that many of us living in Hong Kong is thinking about all the time. It is, in fact, almost the only topic we discuss with our friends and families nowadays.
So, thank you for your question. I believe considering many different aspects of what is going on and discussing the effect of protests itself is a worthy effort no matter what because exchanging ideas is a very important first step for people to understand each other.
A street protest is one of the very limited options people have to express their political views under the current systemMasato Kajimoto