Over two million people took to the streets of Hong Kong on June 16 to protest the government’s proposal to change extradition laws to allow the citizens to be extradited to mainland China, effectively giving Beijing increased political control over the former British colony and autonomous territory.
But guess what happened? They held a massive peaceful march, cleaned the streets up after, AND gave the world proof of its exceptional civic sense by parting like the Red Sea to make way for an ambulance in the most organised way possible.
It’s 2:30am and they have teams walking through the protest site with giant garbage bags and collecting rubbish.
Hong Kong is quite a place pic.twitter.com/UrgK6apmrK
— Nathan Ruser (@Nrg8000) June 16, 2019
Ennie Chan, who took part in the unprecedented mass protests, told the Independent:
“I was there [at the protests] and I saw everything … I saw young people holding different bags to take trash away last night. There were a lot of people clearing rubbish.”
Author Kong Tsung-gan posted on Twitter:
Occupiers are doing one last sweep for rubbish. 2 million people marched here yesterday, it was occupied all night, and there isn’t a scrap of rubbish on the road. #HK people…! pic.twitter.com/JE8D4f4iCL
— Kong Tsung-gan / 江松澗 (@KongTsungGan) June 17, 2019
On the night of June 16, protesters occupied roads around government headquarters and legislature. Clips posted on social media showed TWO MILLION protesters in Harcourt Road, near the Central Government Complex, making way for an ambulance (as it appeared in the middle of the road carrying a protester who had fainted around 9pm) in an orderly, prompt fashion.
Cathy, one of the protesters, told the Daily Mail:
“I heard that someone had fallen ill ahead of us. The ambulance arrived and there was a protester separating the crowd and asking people to move to the side of the road. There was no chaos at all. Everyone was so polite and organized. I was so touched. We are definitely not rioters!”
Beautiful people of Hong Kong.
Protesting. And yet parting as one when an ambulance needs to pass.
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) June 17, 2019
A high school student who asked to remain anonymous told The Independent:
“Yesterday’s protest was beautiful. The protesters were really polite. There were many older protesters as well – if they felt unwell, people around them would hold them up, offer water or bread, and tell others to be careful. It got pretty hot and stuffy whenever we had to wait in the same space for a while. When they saw small kids they helped fan them to cool them down.”
Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam has “indefinitely suspend” the bill in a bid to defuse the anger and violent clashes. She has also issued an apology over Hong Kong’s response to protests and its handling of the controversial bill. However, since she refused to recall the bill, people say only her resignation and the immediate withdrawal of the extradition bill can calm things down now.
Inside China, where news and information are heavily censored, the Hong Kong protests have been portrayed as a primarily violent, foreign-funded plot to destabilize the semi-autonomous region. State-owned media outlet The Global Times reports:
“They [the most radical opposition forces] are engaged in extreme political confrontation regardless of morality and justice. They are fooling the Hong Kong people and treat them as cannon fodder to exploit influence, poisoning the social environment that the welfare of Hong Kong people rests on.
“Shouting “oppose extradition to China,” these forces are confronting the government of Hong Kong, but then they use the slogan to create fear of the mainland and the central government to cut off ties between Hong Kong and the motherland. The amendments target internationally recognized criminal felons, but opposition forces hype that everyone in Hong Kong could be “extradited to China.” Such a brutal interpretation, once spread in this chaotic context, will make those demonstrators lose all rationality.
“Radical opposition groups in Hong Kong are colluding with hostile forces out of their own political motivations. Hong Kong residents should avoid being cheated, misled and exploited by them. Time will tell where the interests of Hong Kong people lie and who is really doing good for Hong Kong.”