Hong Kong is facing the deepest political crisis since it was handed back to China by the United Kingdom in 1997. The partially autonomous Chinese territory has been shaken by weeks of huge democracy protests, and violent clashes between activists, the police and supporters of the Chinese Government. The spark for the latest tensions was a now-suspended bill that would have allowed Hong Kongers to be extradited to mainland China. But the protests are being driven by opposition to Beijing’s intensifying pressure on the freedoms and autonomy that were promised to the city for 50 years from 1997.
The Lowy Institute hosted a panel discussion about the causes of this crisis, the implications for this global financial centre, and the impact on China’s place in the world.
Lai-Ha Chan is a Senior Lecturer in the Social and Political Sciences Program at the School of Communication at the University of Technology Sydney. She studies China’s international relations and its place in the global order. Before coming to Australia to conduct her PhD research, she worked for the Hong Kong Government.
Jared Fu is a university student and democracy activist from Hong Kong who helped organise the recent protest in Sydney against the extradition bill.
Ben Bland is the Director of the Southeast Asia Project at the Lowy Institute and a former correspondent for the Financial Times in Hong Kong. He is the author of Generation HK: Seeking Identity in China’s Shadow, which tells the stories of the young Hong Kongers on the frontlines of the city’s struggle for freedom.
The discussion was chaired by Richard McGregor, Lowy Institute Senior Fellow and leading expert on China’s political system and Asian geopolitics. He is the award-winning author of The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers and Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan and the Fate of US Power in the Pacific Century.