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Hong Kong and China: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow


In early June 2019, residents of Hong Kong took to the streets to protest proposed legislation by the Hong Kong government that would enable extradition from the city to mainland China. Over the ensuing months, heavy-handed tactics by the police only swelled the movement, which has grown to involve over a million residents of Hong Kong. The demonstrators' demands have also expanded to encompass an investigation into police brutality, the resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the establishment of free democratic elections in the city.

Although the extradition bill itself has been withdrawn, protests seem certain to continue. For many Hong Kongers, the proposed legislation was merely the latest attempt by Beijing to undermine the unique "one country, two systems" status under which the city enjoys a large decree of economic and legal autonomy. What’s at stake in this standoff between protesters, Hong Kong’s government, and Beijing? How did Hong Kong’s autonomy come about in the first place, and how might it be at risk? On this month's episode of History Talk, host Lauren Henry discusses this pivotal moment in Hong Kong's history with two experts on modern China: Dr. Denise Y. Ho and Melvin Barnes Jr.

Thousands of protesters march through the streets against an extradition bill on Sunday, June 16, 2019, in Hong Kong.

To learn more about the history of Hong Kong and China, read our feature article, Hong Kong in Protest, by Melvin Barnes Jr. Be sure to check our other coverage of the region: Remembering Tiananmen: The View from Hong Kong, The United States, China, and the Money Question, China Dreams and the “Road to Revival”, and Modern China and Its Institutions.Professor Ho has also published her own analysis of the protests in Hong Kong: Summer of protest: Are we witnessing a turning point in Hong Kong politics?

(Image Source)

Posted September 2019

[A transcript of this podcast is available here.]