HONG KONG – The scene outside Hong Kong’s Legislative Council building, which is the headquarters for the Beijing-backed local authority, was peaceful on Wednesday. Small groups of activists gathered and prepared posters and supplies.
It was anything but a week ago when protestors tried to block lawmakers from debating a controversial bill on extradition. Residents here fear that could allow authorities to send them to China and its suspect judicial system. Dozens were injured and arrested.
That violence helped fuel a massive two million strong march last Sunday. People in this one-time British colony and now-special administrative region of China are worried that whatever democracy they now have is being eroded.
They are calling for the scrapping of the bill and the ouster of the China-backed Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
One of the people making the demands is 22-year-old Joshua Wong. He was released just a day after the mass protest. He had been in prison on charges related to the last major uprising, the 2014 umbrella movement, of which Wong was a leader.
When we spoke with him today, the remarkably composed young man sounded ready to hit the barricades again.
“We are ready, dedicated, and committed to the future of our Hong Kong,” he said. “People should be the master of their own house, instead of the authoritarian regime.”
He was disappointed he missed taking part in that mass march, but was satisfied it happened.
“It was really impressive,” he told us, “and shows the dignity and spirit of the Hong Kong people.”
He told us he is hoping that President Trump raises the Hong Kong issue when he speaks with Chinese President Xi next week at the G-20 meeting. But he also says the Hong Kongers are ready to go it alone….with a simple but challenging goal.
“We ask for freedom and democracy.”
More protests are set for later this week.