February 26, 2020

The Future of Democracy on Trial in Hong Kong

“When Hong Kong’s protests broke out in June, I was 5,000 miles away in Copenhagen. I saw headlines but was ignorant of the scale and complexity of what has become a de facto war against creeping authoritarianism.

It was only through a chance encounter with two students from Hong Kong that I became aware of the passion and ingenuity at the movement’s core. The young couple with warm, big smiles excitedly showed me a stack of fliers they had printed to hand out at the university they were attending in Europe that summer. The small pieces of paper explained protesters’ opposition to a proposed law to allow Hong Kongers to be extradited to China on criminal charges.

I was struck by how the couple sacrificed time and money to inform strangers about a political situation on the other side of the world. I needed to learn more. I wanted to understand how and why, week after week, up to 2 million people peacefully took to the streets to demonstrate.

I began to piece together the story of a city full of highly educated young adults, desperately fighting for a future that includes the freedoms China promised for half a century when it took over the semiautonomous territory from Britain in 1997.”

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