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Hong Kong Protests Resume As Lockdown Restrictions Ease

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More than 200 people have been arrested in Hong Kong on Sunday, 10th May 2020 after protesters resumed their pro-democracy movement. In Hong Kong’s Mongkok district, multiple protests at shopping malls broke out during the morning with protesters building barriers and setting fires to block roads later that day. This comes after the government eased restrictions and allowed public gatherings to increase from four to eight people.

Friday, 15th March 2019 saw the first protest from pro-democracy groups who continued their movement through the rest of 2019 and beginning of 2020. Coronavirus lockdowns at the beginning of 2020 worked in China’s favour and brought public protests to a standstill, as social distancing rules were enforced to reduce the spread of the virus. Now that restrictions are being lifted, momentum is beginning to build once again for the pro-democracy movement.

Protesters are demanding for Hong Kong to be a full democracy and move away from being ruled by mainland China, as well as an investigation into alleged police brutality in suppressing their protests. Protesters claim the extradition bill will force people to be subject to arbitrary detention, unfair trial and torture from China’s judicial system. These protests have been met with strong opposition from the Chinese government who have not yielded to the movement’s requests.

Protesters are claiming that China is taking advantage of social distancing rules to fight back against their protests. Beijing’s view on this, however, is that they would not sit by “with this demented force in place” and made a point of saying their top priority is to maintain order and their national security. The protests have taken several different forms, which have ranged from marches involving thousands of people; to smaller groups; as well as intrusions into certain areas. In 2019, a protest targeted the airport, which caused significant flight delays and cancellations.

Hong Kong is a global business and financial superpower that connects China and the rest of the world.  Yet more recently, protests coupled with global uncertainty from the U.S.-China trade war and coronavirus will collectively drive the economy into a recession. Within the country, closures of businesses, particularly within the retail sector have been a major driver of the economic downturn. This is because the country is heavily dependent on private consumption and like all other countries, consumer sentiment has been on a steady decline. Luxury retail stores in the renowned Causeway Bay area are shutting their businesses as the current climate remains unviable. This is in part reflected in the 44 per cent reduction in retail sales during the February lockdown period.

By Caroline Wong 

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