Hong Kong: The protests through the eyes of an expat

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Published 2019-06-17 08:52

With this bill, the Hong-Kong government, seeks to allow extraditions of residents towards China would be allowed. And this does not sit quite well with residents of the special administrative region. After demonstrations and clashes with the police, the bill was suspended on the 15th of June. Nevertheless, nearly two million people took to the streets of Hong Kong the next day, demanding its full withdrawal and the resignation of the head of the executive. Alexandre, a French expat settled in Hong-Kong since 2011, takes stock of the situation...

The demonstrations began on June 9, how are things in Hong-Kong today?

There were clashes with the police until the evening of June 12, but the situation has since returned to normal. Today (Friday 14th), we just know that there has been a call for a massive demonstrative on Sunday. (Editor's note: The interview was conducted before the demonstration of June 16, it gathered two million people according to an estimate from the organizers).

Is it tense in Hong-Kong these days?

It is relatively normal, to be fair. The people of Hong Kong protest regularly when they think the government is making bad decisions. The event last weekend pretty big, however.

What is the feeling amongst the expatriate community in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is a very cosmopolitan city (notably, the largest community of French in Asia), so the feelings are varied. Those who have only just settled down here are mainly curious about the movement. The ones who have been here longer feel more involved.

Have the recent events disrupted daily life in Hong Kong?

Not really. The roads in the vicinity of the government building were blocked by police on Thursday morning and a subway station was closed for a few hours. Nothing big at the moment to be honest.

Do you feel concerned by these events?

Yes. We have been living in HK for eight years. We are permanent residents and also have the right to vote. So, of course we feel very much concerned by this bill and we are following the situation very closely- maybe even more than the events of 2014.

How do you think bills like these can impact expat decisions with regards to Hong-Kong?

The agreement signed between China and the United Kingdom in 1984 and enacted since 1997 implies that Hong Kong and China are getting closer. This evolution cannot be done without a few snags and arguments here and there. There have already been clashes in 2003, in 2014... I trust the government will manage this crisis like it has done with the previous ones.