Why are people protesting in Hong Kong?
At the heart of the protests are demands for electoral reforms over who gets to decide on Hong Kong's chief executive - the top political leader for the city. After Britain handed control of Hong Kong back to China in 1997, some assurances were made to Hong Kong that the island city would stay fairly autonomous, maintain its common-law system, and enjoy greater rights than people living in mainland China. By 2017, Hong Kong residents were hoping to democratically elect their own chief executive. Despite the language in the so-called "one country, two systems" deal, Chinese President Xi Jinping appears to be disregarding the 1997 agreement and wants Beijing party leaders to continue selecting the candidates for Hong Kong's chief executive position.
How are protestors communicating with each other?
As China is notorious for cracking down on journalists and Internet access, many protestors are finding other means to communicate with one another. FireChat is one app in particular that is gaining popularity among people wanting to safely share information about the protests. What sets this app apart and makes it so secure is that it does not rely on cell towers or WiFi networks. FireChat uses mesh networking - directly connecting users device to device without having to go through a central authority like a phone company or Internet Service Provider (ISP). As explained in Wired, these networks are robust and ideal for unpredictable conditions (like natural disasters or protests). Student leaders in Hong Kong have taken to social media to promote the use of FireChat, which would still allow protestors to communicate even if the government shut off cellular networks. Just in Hong Kong alone, FireChat was downloaded 100,000 times between Sunday morning and Monday morning, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Hong Kong's unprecedented protests and police crackdown, explained (via Vox)
"Protest marches and vigils are fairly common in Hong Kong, but what began on Friday and escalated dramatically on Sunday is unprecedented. Mass acts of civil disobedience were met by a shocking and swift police response, which has led to clashes in the streets and popular outrage so great that analysts can only guess at what will happen next".
Beijing-allied politician in Hong Kong: 'Some degree of violence is imminent' (via Vox)
"On Tuesday, as tens of thousands of Hong Kong citizens marched to demand greater democracy and to protect their autonomy from mainland Chinese rule, one of Beijing's top allies in Hong Kong politics made an awfully provocative statement".
NY Times Archives (1997): China Resumes Control of Hong Kong, Concluding 156 Years of British Rule (via The New York Times)
Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong (via The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region)
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