Hong Kong

Hong Kong Protesters Want Democracy, Accountability, Autonomy, and U.S. Support

The formal withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill won't be enough to stop the protest movement.


Hongkongers booed the Chinese national anthem before a soccer match on Tuesday night. That's an illegal act in mainland China.

After more than three months of sustained protests in Hong Kong, nobody seems quite sure what will happen next. But it's clear that the government's formal withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill won't be enough to stop the protest movement.

The demonstrators tell Reason that the Hong Kong police force lost the public trust during its violent crackdowns. They see their government as hopelessly compromised because its leaders are controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. They're calling for an independent investigation into the police, and they want to elect new leaders who aren't beholding to interest groups connected to mainland China.

The protesters also expressed hope that the U.S. Congress would pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which would make the city's bilateral trade and travel agreements with the U.S. contingent on China maintaining Hong Kong's autonomy. It would also levy sanctions against Chinese individuals accused of violating the rights of Hong Kong citizens, and it would direct immigration officials not to punish visa applicants who've been arrested for participating in the protests.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Edwin Lee.

Photo credits: Hong Kong police by Miguel Canela/SOPA Images/Sip/Newscom; protester with U.S. flag by Aidan Marzo/SOPA Images/Sina U/Newscom; Carrie Lam by Kyodo/Newscom; Carrie Lam at podium by SOPA Images; protesters with hands up by Aaron Guy Leroux/Sipa USA/Newscom


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  1. I read a story where Hong Kong protesters were singing the Star Spangled Banner… do we really want more Trump voters?

    1. Anti communists are the worst am I right? what kind of pro imperialist garbage is that? fight for your own right to party bro.

    2. If Hong Kong protesters are backwater and bigoted enough to vote for Trump, I’d support letting Hong Kong have the entire Trump family (although I hope Barron and Tiffany, who may be decent people and seem barely associated with their ostensible father, might wish to stay in America).

      1. Jesus christ dude? have you ever left this country? People in asia make the bigotry and provincialism of this country looks like the rainbow coalition. In fact go anywhere and find a more racially enlightened person than the average american, with maybe the exception of Canada I’d take that pepsi challenge all day everyday.

        1. Yeah, you have to do a lot of international travel to learn what real racism means.

          1. you don’t even have to do a lot. You just have to be somewhere long enough and be willing to listen to what people you encounter perspectives our. Most have no shame about saying things that would make an altrighter blush. You don’t even need to talk to someone that long just ask basic geography questions and future destinations your planning to visit in their country.

          2. Yeah, you have to do a lot of international travel to learn what real racism means.

            IDK, just out of school the research team I worked was exceedingly diverse. We had a couple of team members that wouldn’t eat at the same table at the same time for reasons that even I thought seemed exceedingly backwater and racist.

          3. Yeah, when I spent some time in South America I heard them casually say shit that would start riots today. Racism outside of the US is far worse with more violent affect than anything we have here.

        2. Wow, seems like denigrating out groups is part of the human condition and not something unique to Americans. Who would have thunk it?

    3. “…do we really want more Trump voters?”

      Well, it’s either that or more Comrade Bernie voters.

  2. Waving the US flag, asking the US for help … they’ve crossed the line from local problems with local solutions to a national problem. Before, the mainland could save face one compromise or another. Now the only way to save face is to smash Hong Kong into compliance. This is not going to end well.

    Or maybe I just don’t know enough about what’s going on, and everything will work out. But I am pessimistic.

    1. “Now the only way to save face is to smash Hong Kong into compliance. ”

      Why? By appealing to Uncle Sam for support, the Hong Kong protesters have likely forfeited any legitimacy they had with the mainland population, the only support that will count for anything in the long run.

      1. Exactly what I meant. The mainland populace, who get there news from the mainland government, will relish putting down the rebels.

        1. With the appeal for American support, the rebels have essentially put down themselves. Had they inspired mainland Chinese to close down the airports in their cities, they might have been on to something bigger.

    2. We should help them…as quietly as humanly possible. Otherwise, China spins this as a non-genuine uprising and just The US interfering.

      Financial support and all…but nothing too public.

      1. dami…Wait, why should we help them?

        The downside risk from getting publicly exposed as providing financial assistance to ‘terrorists’ [Red China’s description, not mine] is so much worse than the risks with stepping back and letting this play out. The UN has said they’re peaceful protesters. The US agrees. Just leave it at that.

        If Red China moves on HK, then there are other levers we can pull (sanctions, trade embargo, etc). But no need to be seen as fomenting civil unrest.

  3. Wait, what happened to the Noninterventionist foreign policy stance?

    1. Wait, what happened to the Noninterventionist foreign policy stance?

      Are you claiming that Reason is favoring intervention here?

      1. The bill mentioned is intervening in another countries affairs and uses economic sanctions without menti on ningbo any misgivings about the intent.

    2. “Non-interventionist policy?”
      When did America employ that sane policy?

  4. The Chinese Communist Party is 30 years overdue for the dustbin, here’s hoping history has finally caught up with them.

  5. Why isn’t Reason screaming about the anti free market principles being utilized here? Using the government to inhibit free trade?


    1. Next column by Boehm: “How helping Hong Kong obtain its freedom will cost 300,000 US jobs”

  6. ewwww democracy

  7. Ouch! This really puts the US into a very difficult spot.

    First….HK is not a vital US interest. So rule out military intervention.
    Second….POTUS Trump seems to be making the right moves thusfar: HK is an internal China matter, but do not persecute the protesters who are peacefully protesting.
    Third: We have some time…like 27.33 years to figure it out. No need for an instant solution here. We could, like, maybe let them work it out amongst themselves?

    1. “First….HK is not a vital US interest.”

      It’s more of a UK interest. Many Hong Kongers hold BN(O) passports. They have a similar status to residents of Gibraltar and the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands, I believe. These documents don’t give the holder the right of abode in the UK at the moment, but that could change.

      1. It hasn’t been a UK interest since 1997. That agreement was made with the knowledge that China was only going to abide by those terms as long as it was convenient for the government of China. They started violating them as soon as Hong Kong was handed over.

        The UK was fully willing to go to war over the Falklands (with Argentina) and Gibraltar (with Spain). They’re not going to do it with China…the only victory they could achieve there would at best be a Pyrrhic one. They weren’t going to fight with China when China threatened to invade in the 1980s and they aren’t going to do it 20 years after the city was handed back to China.

        Issue’s dead.

        1. “Issue’s dead.”

          Not as long as those passports remain valid.

  8. Nope. However noble the intent of the protesters, this will end up a net-win for the Chinese Communist Party. The protesters are no killing the Chinese freedom movement. https://intheswamp.wordpress.com/2019/09/04/the-hong-kong-protests-are-strengthening-chinas-communist-party/

  9. I feel bad for the protesters. They want us to live up to our, I don’t know, “mythos”? About being for Freedom and against communism and oppression, these truths we hold self evident and all that, and they’re taking some very bold steps to try and get our support, but the average American is tired of war, cynical of any government calls to action on anything, and definitely not willing to step up against China over a British port. This is going to end in tears, and I’m not looking forward to that.

    1. I feel for the protestors as well, but this was inevitable ever since the British gave Hong Kong back. Unless the nominally communist regime collapsed on it’s own, it was always going to end Hong Kong’s anomalous status as soon as it was convenient to do so.

      1. Yup. It’s sad, but this was decided back in the 1980s when Thatcher agreed to the handover in 1997 because she wasn’t going to go to war with China. At that point, autonomous Hong Kong had an expiration date.

        We’ve seen this story before with people who challenge China’s government. It doesn’t end well for them and the government doesn’t tolerate dissent. But we’re not going to get into a shooting war with China over it either…it’s simply not our battle and not a worthwhile one to fight. I wish the protesters well, but when the hammer comes down from the police, I’m not going to be saying we should send in the troops to stop China from running its own city.

    2. they should have learned from Tinaman square when they held statues of lady liberty as clear sign for the U.S. to do something and George Bush sat quietly by saying nothing. Chinas to big and has the Bomb. The U.S. will do nothing. besides i think the deep state especially the CIA like communist countries, note they have never created a democracy but they have turned over a few.

    3. Yeah, my personal hope is simply that we offer all the HKers who want it political asylum when China brings the boot down. It seems like the best way to offer support to some people who want freedom while abiding by the NAP.
      I’m not sure I’m sold on the bill in question, although I suppose if Trump could use it as a prod to get the chinese to offer him a deal he could tout as a “victory” in the trade war, thus bringing it to a merciful end, I could get behind it.

  10. America would trade Hong Kong for California, but the ruling elites of the People’s Republic of China have said they have enough communists as it is.

    1. Let’s just give them San Fran for it, then. That wouldn’t be so bad, no? 😉

  11. Hong Kong Protesters Want Democracy, Accountability, Autonomy, and U.S. Support

    Well hopefully they’ll settle for ‘none of the above’ cuz the Chinese won’t give them the first three and the US has already thrown them under the bus and won’t even give much rhetorical support

  12. “They see their leaders as hopelessly compromised…” “They want to elect new leaders.”?? WTF? Voting didn’t work, so…let’s do it some more! Or, examine your political paradigm. Is it wise (working)? Is forfeit of your sovereignty to an elite resulting in the loss of your control and the gain of control for a few who will enjoy a moral blank check and the people’s permission to initiate violence, threaten, creating freedom/democracy? No? Then STOP it! Stop creating your helplessness and then begging your rulers to help you. Take responsibility for your self-governance, boycott the old failed concentration of power (use of violence). Be politically responsible, politically mature, and try using reason, rights, and a voluntary system. Or, after millennia of war, poverty, corruption and oppression, just keep doing the same and hope for change.

    1. More like New Jersey then.

    2. If you don’t know this but all top Hong Kong official positions are voted on, But all candidates are chosen by the CCP. This Singapore site has updates on the Hong Kong protest almost every 3 to six hours

      Some of the stories go on to explain how elections in Hong Kong are handle and it is weird and the CCP abuses it.

  13. Reason: “Trump is a monster for fighting a trade war with China and for tearing up existing trade deals because we can’t force China to comply with them.”

    Also Reason: “Congress should make all new trade deals contingent on U.S. politicians being allowed to dictate how China runs their internal governance.”

  14. If you want to see China’s 50 cent army at work and on over time. Just check out the comments on this video on you tube. Or any video on the Hong Kong protest. Some of their trolling is so bad it can be funny at times. It get really stupid when they post that they are not the 50 cent army.

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