- Five years after the umbrella movement, Hong Kong is experiencing demonstrations of unprecedented social mobilization with no end in sight. Protests against a proposed extradition law have developed into a wider anti-government movement and calls for electoral reform.
- The protesters have said they are fighting a final battle for the future of Hong Kong, one that will decide if it maintains its freedoms (i.e. rule of law, freedom of the press etc.) or is placed firmly under Beijing’s authoritarian control.
- China’s reaction to the protests has demonstrated Beijing’s failure to assess and incorporate the Hong Kong people’s sentiment towards the mainland.
- Despite a few concessions and offers for dialogue, neither the Hong Kong nor the Beijing government have any intention of bowing to the substantive changes to the political system the protesters demand.
- The continuing crisis challenges Europe politically and economically: China’s handling of the crisis has brought to light that the politicization of business is increasingly becoming a tool to enforce interests.
- European governments need to actively work with companies to be prepared if this kind of undue Chinese pressure affects them.
The MERICS Policy Brief is a publication tailored to the needs of policy and decision makers focused on China. If you would like to read the full Policy Brief, please contact Claudia Wessling, Director Publications MERICS (claudia.wessling(at)merics.de).