Hi everyone! It’s very nice to meet you all. I’m a journalist for the Telegraph, based in Beijing. My job is to bring interesting, newsworthy stories to all of you in the UK and around the world from my patch, the greater China region. Sometimes my stories ARE about politics; sometimes they’re about pandas!
Why did protesting start?
willing_flight, Arnhem Wharf Primary School
Protests first began because Hong Kong people were upset over an extradition bill, a proposed law that would have sent suspects to face trial for alleged offences committed in mainland China.
Many people began participating in peaceful marches as a way of speaking out against the passing of the bill. They were worried those being sent to mainland China wouldn’t have the right to a fair trial. Almost all - 99.9 per cent - who go to trial in China are found guilty.
That’s because mainland China is governed very differently than Hong Kong. In the mainland, the Chinese Communist Party exerts much influence over many government institutions, including the courts.
Hong Kong, however, has long enjoyed greater freedoms, such as the freedom of speech, independent courts and open markets. This is known as the "one country, two systems" policy, and those rights are meant to be guaranteed under terms agreed when the British Empire returned Hong Kong - then a colony - to China in 1997. That agreement is called the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
In the 22 years since then, some Hong Kong people have grown very concerned that those freedoms and rights are disappearing under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.
The extradition bill I mentioned at the top is one example of why people are worried about losing those rights. While the bill was what sparked the protests, people continue to demonstrate because of those wider concerns to keep their freedoms.
What could be the outcomes if the UK intervened?
Memorable_orchard, Michael Faraday School
The UK has a range of options to impact the potential outcome. All of them would put pressure on the central Chinese government and also the Hong Kong city authorities to act sooner rather than later, and in a humane manner, to end the unrest.
One idea some MPs have suggested is to use sanctions - commercial and financial penalties that would affect money China and its government officials get, which could pressure key leaders in Hong Kong and China to find a solution.
The British government could also take this up at the United Nations and declare China in breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a legally- binding international treaty for both parties involved. That’s the agreement I mentioned earlier when Britain ceded Hong Kong back to Beijing.
But how the UK acts on this specific issue could impact it’s overall relationship with China, a key trading partner.
One idea some MPs have suggested is to use sanctions - commercial and financial penalties that would affect money China and its government officials get, which could pressure key leaders in Hong Kong and China to find a solution.Sophia Yan
How much of the Hong Kong crisis is being shown in China's news? Does it make Hong Kong look like the victim or the instigator?
Vibrant_tiger, Woodhill Primary School
Hi Vibrant_tiger, That is a very thoughtful question and one I follow closely as a journalist.
China doesn’t allow freedom of speech - government censors filter news and information, and official propaganda control the message sent to the public. For example, foreign news websites can be blocked online, some books aren’t allowed in the country, and social media posts can be deleted without consent.
When the protests first began a few months ago, there was no mention of them at all in China’s news outlets, all of which are controlled by the government. On July 1, the anniversary of when Hong Kong was returned by the British to Beijing, that all changed. That day, a radical group of protesters, some of whom were teenagers, broke into the city’s legislature building. And that’s when Chinese state media began to report selectively on the protests, showing chaos and destruction without fully explaining why they are so upset. As a result, many people in mainland China don’t have full knowledge of the situation, such as why the protests started and what has caused so much public anger against the government.
What do you think will happen to Hong Kong next?
Adaptable_beetle, Boutcher C of E Primary School
The protests look set to disrupt the city for a while longer - there is no end in sight at the moment. At first, the protesters wanted a formal withdrawal of the extradition bill. In September, city leaders finally agreed to do so. This is expected to be finalised in October.
But protesters have grown increasingly upset with how the government and police have handled the protests. Their demands now include the resignation of the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, to resign; for an independent inquiry into police actions; and for all rioting charges against protesters to be dropped, considered a serious offence that carried a maximum of ten years in prison.
Hong Kong protesters are also calling for direct elections to pick their leader, because they don’t feel their government is representative and reflects their voice.
For now, Hong Kong leaders haven’t indicated any willingness to concede to any of those demands. If things continue, then the central government in Beijing might also choose to intervene by sending Chinese military or police to restore order, but doing so would be complicated politically and give the impression that Chinese authorities had lost faith in Hong Kong leaders to handle the situation on their own.
If things continue, then the central government in Beijing might also choose to intervene by sending Chinese military or police to restore order, but doing so would be complicated politically and give the impression that Chinese authorities had lost faith in Hong Kong leaders to handle the situation on their own.Sophia Yan