College of Liberal Arts

Continued Resistance: A Q&A on the Hong Kong Protests

Tue, Jan 14, 2020
The Hong Kong people protest against the extradition bill, August 18 2019. Photo by Studio Incendo.
The Hong Kong people protest against the extradition bill, August 18 2019. Photo by Studio Incendo.

When the Chinese government took back Hong Kong after more than 150 years of British rule in 1997, it was a significant point of pride. For China, it marked the ending of an era of imperialism and foreign aggression; but for the people of Hong Kong, it was just the beginning of their fight to protect their way of life. 

The terms for Hong Kong’s return were set out in the Basic Law, which promised to preserve the Hong Kong people’s way of life for fifty years. China would implement a system called “one country, two systems” so that Hong Kong would operate as a Special Administration Zone, having different economic regulations and political systems to allow for greater local autonomy. 

Overtime, the Chinese government expected the Hong Kong people to assimilate and become like the rest of its population. But, its growing efforts to integrate Hong Kong through migration, education and economic and political constraints fueled pushback and regular demonstrations, which reached new heights in 2019. 

Madeline Hsu, professor of history and Asian American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin who grew up in both Taiwan and Hong Kong, sat down with us to discuss the 10-months of protest in Hong Kong, where the unrest stems from and what to expect in the future.

Read the Q&A on Life & Letters online. 

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