Will the Storming of Hong Kong’s Legislature Doom Its Protest Movement?

Will the Storming of Hong Kong’s Legislature Doom Its Protest Movement?
A protester defaces the Hong Kong emblem after breaking in to the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong, July 1, 2019 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China.

Hong Kong was rocked by another round of protests against its controversial extradition bill on Monday, the 22nd anniversary of the territory’s return to Chinese rule. While hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters took to the streets, a smaller group of activists stormed and occupied the city’s legislature. The contrasting tactics revealed a divide in the protest movement that could undermine it. There are fears that Beijing will use the violence as justification to strengthen its grip over Hong Kong, further eroding the “one country, two systems” arrangement that is supposed to guarantee the city its semiautonomous status.

The anniversary of the 1997 handover of control from the United Kingdom to China is a traditional day of protest for Hong Kongers disgruntled with Beijing’s growing political influence in the city. But this year, there was a greater sense of urgency amid the months-long protest movement against a proposed law that would allow extraditions to mainland China, which was suspended by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam last month. But protesters are still demanding that Lam withdraw the bill completely and release those who were arrested in last month’s violent crackdown on demonstrations.

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