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(October 11, 2019) HK protests in a regional perspective

When Hong Kong's protest movement against the Extradition Law Amendment Bill began on March 30, few could have anticipated that it would become a full-blown popular revolt. The protesters initially opposed the bill because it would allow the Hong Kong government to detain and extradite fugitives to mainland China. Despite the suspension and subsequent withdrawal of the bill by Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the protest movement has taken on a life of its own. As its end goals of universal suffrage, an independent inquiry into police conduct and Ms Lam's resignation harden, its endgame appears fraught with risks of intensifying confrontation and violence.

At its most extreme, the protest movement has come to resemble a kind of separation and distance from mainland Chinese rule. At a minimum, it appears to be in search of some local autonomy and democratic governance with greater upward mobility, away from Chinese supervision but with more equitable income distribution. Many of the protesters are reportedly young and economically deprived with few prospects of better standards of living, while the territory is famously wealthy and glitzy to outsiders.