As COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong subside, political tensions are resurfacing with several small protests appearing around the city.
These tensions have also been carried into government.
On Friday, rival lawmakers scuffled over electing the chairman of a key committee at a Legislative Council meeting.
Democrats sought to eject a pro-Beijing lawmaker who attempted to chair the meeting in a move that Democrats said violated procedure. Several Democrats were carried out of the chambers.
A war of words continues
China has claimed that pro-democracy lawmakers are preventing proposed bills from coming to a final vote and, ultimately, halting the legislative process.
Democrats have said the committee needs to elect a chairman first before any bills can be discussed and that filibustering in the legislature is legal as well as an established international practice.
One of the proposed laws would penalize any intentional alterations to the Chinese anthem and derogatory performances.
Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong has urged the local government to work to enact national security legislation “as soon as possible.” This however, has created more worries that the mainland is interfering with the island’s affairs.
Hong Kong’s unique history
China started ceding control of Hong Kong to Britain after losing the First Opium War in 1842.
The first area within Hong Kong to fall under British rule was Hong Kong Island.
The year 1860 marked another British victory in the Second Opium War which resulted in China ceding the Kowloon peninsula to the United Kingdom.
In 1898, the New Territories and 235 islands became the UK’s final Hong Kong acquisition in the form of a 99-year lease.
In 1997, Hong Kong was handed back to mainland China.
After an extradition bill proposed in March of 2019 by Hong Kong’s Security Bureau, social unrest has continued to sweep across the semi-autonomous island with many Hongkongers seeing the bill as another attempt to encroach on the island’s autonomy – autonomy that was promised to last until 2047.
However, up to now Beijing has continually insisted that it is not seeking to erode the island’s freedoms.
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