Hong Kong Protest Outcomes
Right now, thousands of Hong Kong citizens, from students to women, business tycoons to taxi drivers, are making history through mostly peaceful protests. The protestors are demanding universal suffrage, the ability to select their own nominees for political elections, and many student protesters are also demanding education reform. The CCP has proven that they will do whatever it takes to remain in control, so these demonstrations will likely end with nothing changing. Generational conflict and pressure from Beijing will prevent Hong Kong officials from changing the format of the Hong Kong government or the current education system, but will most likely promise the protestors that the current one country, two systems political structure will remain in place.
Many Hong Kong students are protesting for education reform in an effort to create more opportunities for success for students. Throughout China, the college admission process is very competitive, partially because of the format of the Gaokao, an exam taken by all students who are vying for spots in Chinese universities. This test is crucial because “most colleges in China use an applicant’s total score on the Gaokao as a single criterion in the admission process” (China Since 1644 346). A student’s results on the Gaokao essentially determine their future, which is a huge cause for frustration amongst many students whose test scores fall just below the admission cutoff. Student protestors are asking for an education system in which one test does not decide your fate and where schools prepare them for successful careers. Even with the protests, students are continuing to study whenever they can, in hopes for a chance at a bright future, as shown in the below photo.
As a result of the competitive nature of the Gaokao, the wealth gap in Hong Kong is enormous. Those who succeed on the test lead comfortable lifestyles, whereas those who miss the admission score for universities usually end up in the lower class. As stated in The Economist, “many young people in Hong Kong are dissatisfied with the economy, and see a system rigged against them by the territory’s wealthy tycoons.” (No Exit). The young generation wants cheaper rent, more job opportunities, and less influence from already successful tycoons. They feel that it is their time to take charge of China and carve their own paths for success. These feelings have been a cause of conflict between the two generations.The older generation and the younger generation have very conflicting ideas surrounding reform and change in the city. Many parents and grandparents will not allow their students to protest. This impacts the student protestors because the CCP is comprised of people from their parents’ generations, and these older officials do not want to change the current system in Hong Kong.
The majority of the protestors are protesting for the right to a full democracy. In September, the Hong Kong government announced that the candidates for the 2017 Chief Executive elections were going to be chosen by a committee of CCP officials. This sparked immediate upset and caused the protests to begin. The protestors are people who want more freedoms, as Joshua Wong says: “The people of my generation want more. In a world where ideas and ideals flow freely, we want what everybody else in an advanced society seems to have: a say in our future” (Wong). Hong Kong’s protesters do not want to be ruled under the same strict laws as main land China. They want more freedoms, beginning with the ability to nominate their own candidates in political races, and they are protesting because they feel the people of Hong Kong deserve these rights.Despite the efforts made by the protesters, the CCP is not likely to change anything, political, educational, or economical. One official, Tung Chee-hwa “said that the protesters’ demands were not realistic and that they should accept a longer timeline for electoral reforms.” (Hong Kong Democracy Protesters…). Many Hong Kong officials feel that the protesters are not appreciating the rights that they currently have, and that they must be more patient in expecting reform.
Further, the Hong Kong government is heavily influenced by the CCP in Beijing, so they do not have complete power to change. Beijing is actually responsible for these protests, because “it is clear to all sides that the decision to limit nominees for the 2017 elections came directly from Beijing and not from the local Hong Kong government. ‘Beijing has put itself in a corner and I don’t think it can back down,’ Hung told the Guardian” (McCarthy). The CCP in Beijing cannot show any weaknesses to the protesters, and they need Hong Kong officials to resist the protesters in order to maintain their image of being a strong force against the people. They know that if democracy and education reform is granted to Hong Kong, main land China will soon ask for the same rights. Instead of listening to the protesters, the CCP said in the People’s Daily that “‘if this extreme minority of people [protesters] insists on violation the rule of law and stirring up trouble, they will end up suffering the consequences of their actions.’” (Schell). The CCP has made it clear that the protesters are not going to create any change in Hong Kong, and they have even threatened them with punishment, which clearly shows that the party has no plans to succumb to the demands of the protesters.
The CCP will not change or reform much of anything following these protests in Hong Kong. The older generation in the government disagrees with what the younger generation wants. Beijing cannot let the protesters win in Hong Kong, or else they will have dissent throughout all of main land China. The protests are going to eventually die down, and when they do, the CCP will make sure to prevent similar protests from happening in the future. Although there most likely won’t be any change as a result of these protests, once the younger generation grows up and takes control of the government, change is inevitable.