Four months of protests continue in Hong Kong as the world is witnessing the biggest uprising of political dissent in the territory since the 1997 ‘handover’ from Britain to China. Protesters have recently embraced wearing Guy Fawkes masks but on October 3, Hong Kong’s current Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, implemented colonial-era emergency powers banning the use of masks. Lam also told Hong Kong residents the government can “make any regulations whatsoever” and since she enacted the laws the public has been livid.
Hong Kong Leaders Enrage Protesters With Colonial-Era Emergency Powers and Banning Masks
Political unrest in Hong Kong continues as the entire administrative region has been embattled in a feud between its citizens, Hong Kong officials, and China. What started as a protest against the 2019 extradition bill has become a full force revolt for political freedom from China’s binds. For months the demonstrators demanded that Lam withdraw the bill that would allow Chinese law enforcement to extradite anyone from the territory to mainland China if they stand accused of a crime. The protesters also demand that individuals charged with crimes for protesting be pardoned and they want a full investigation into the Hong Kong police force. The last two of the “five demands” requires Lam to change the definition of peaceful protests as they are currently called “riots” at the moment and they also want universal suffrage. Essentially, this means that citizens would be allowed to vote for their leaders without Chinese interference.
Hong Kong independence proponent Chen Haotian also told citizens to free themselves from China’s financial chains and insisted people should incite a bank run on Chinese banks operating in the territory. Then on September 4, Lam held a press conference and announced she would withdraw the extradition bill. On the other side of the argument, protest leaders wearing masks also held a news conference and said Lam’s removal of the bill was not enough. Hong Kong protesters now regularly wear smiling Guy Fawkes masks from the film “V for Vendetta.” Guy Fawkes masks have become a well known symbol for the underground hacktivist organization Anonymous and many individuals donned them during the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. On October 1, as China honored the 70th anniversary of communist rule, Hong Kong streets were filled with turmoil. Clashes broke out between the dissenters and the police, a military parade of officers fired water cannons and tear gas at the crowds of people.
Lam has since enacted extremely old rules over Hong Kong citizens which basically give the government the power to do anything it wants. People can be arrested for wearing Guy Fawkes masks and the territory now has emergency curfews, media censorship, and full control over all transportation systems. The dictatorship style rules have made it worse for Lam and her Chinese comrades as protesters took to the streets at nightfall and confronted police again. Hundreds of opponents of the Chinese government also stormed a Bank of China’s Hong Kong branch. Protesters smashed the storefront glass of another Chinese bank called China Life. “This is an ancient, colonial set of regulations, and you don’t use them unless you can’t legislate anymore,” said Martin Lee, a veteran activist and eminent attorney from Hong Kong. “Once you start, there’s no end to it.”
Onlookers Believe China Will Advance the Fight by Utilizing Capital Controls and Cutting the Hong Kong Conduit to Global Finance
While it’s true BTC prices in Hong Kong have seen some significant premiums, the rise is not a hyperbitcoinization event. That is at least until Lam and the government decides to push more than banning just masks and adding emergency curfews. Coincidentally, at the same time of unrest from the protests, Charles Li, chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, discussed the subject of Chinese capital controls. “The idea that China will actually one day relax its capital controls… we’re going to continue to talk about it for 20 more years,” Li gibed at an event last week in London.
The fact of the matter is, Hong Kong has always been China’s global finance conduit. Many cryptocurrency advocates witnessed the time when China banned digital currency exchanges that operated on the mainland. Most of the crypto businesses headquartered in China did not quit their operations, they simply shifted everything over to Hong Kong. With Carrie Lam now possessing dictatorship-like powers similar to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, the financial sector could be harmed indefinitely.
Chief Investment Officer at Hayman Capital Management Kyle Bass tweeted on October 4 that Hong Kong was “spinning out of control.” “People lining up at ATM machines to pull cash,” Bass remarked. “So much for the financial center of Asia. The devolution of the British Common Law into the communist’s rule by Law has been truly remarkable.” Bass believes Lam will execute more draconian powers and added:
Hong Kong capital controls are next. The ERO gives lam(b) eminent powers to seize bank accounts, turn off the Internet, seize property, and arrest at will. This is all coming to you courtesy of Carrie and Xi’s great misadventure.
Secessionism is becoming a popular idea and many liberty activists believe that people have the right to secede and start their own way voluntarily. Cryptocurrencies and the Bitcoin invention in a general sense are an act of secession by removing the monetary system from the state. Hong Kong has been fighting for its own autonomy for quite some time and most of the world agrees with the region moving away from ancient forms of colonialism in a modern world.
It’s not the first time Hong Kong has seen massive protests but every time China is allegedly ‘tamed,’ Beijing advances by other tactics. In 2003, China attempted to stifle free speech and freedom of association, and 500,000 citizens took to the streets to protest. Seven years later, China initiated electoral changes which gave Beijing more political power over Hong Kong. In 2014, Beijing revealed it would assume control over city elections and two years later China removed pro-democracy candidates from the elections. In the last few years, independence activists from Hong Kong have been imprisoned and kidnapped by Chinese officials.
Because of the cruel Chinese government crackdown, Hong Kong residents are forced to use any means necessary to protect themselves from their egregious invaders. Whether it be Guy Fawkes masks, encrypted messenger applications, mesh-net services or cryptocurrencies, Hong Kong protesters are using every tool they can to fight for freedom.
What do you think about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong? Do you think tools like cryptocurrencies can help them? How do you see the protests in Hong Kong turning out? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Reuters/Tyrone Siu, Local.Bitcoin.com, Coin Dance, and Pixabay.
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