news Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 05:30

The News Minute | September 29, 2014 | 10.05 am IST

Thousands of people are out on the streets of Hong Kong, an autonomous region under the control of China, demanding that they be granted democracy.

In what is being called the “Umbrella revolution”, protestors can be seen using umbrellas to obtain whatever protection they can, from tear gas shells used the law enforcement authorities. Crowds of people have been gathering the central business district, in front of the main government building, and other areas for around a week, demanding that they be given complete democracy.

These protests have been called the worst that China has faced since the Tiananmen Square protests in 1987. Responding to the protests, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news briefing in Beijing: "Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong,"

Meaning “Frangrant harbour”, Hong Kong is a small territory given the status of a Special Autonomous Region by China. It was a British colony until 1997, when the British gave control to China, based on an agreement singed in 1984. Since then, it has been governed by China’s "one country, two systems" policy, under which, Hong Kong has administrative control over most domains, except for defence and foreign affairs.

Hong Kong does have its own legal system, and its inhabitants enjoy more rights and freedoms that citizens in China.

According to the BBC, the administrative head of Hong Kong is elected by a committee of 1,200 people, who are in effect chosen by Beijing. The Chinese government had promised that direct elections would be held by 2017, but protests have been brewing in the small state since at least June, when Occupy Central led by academician named Benny Tai, organized a referendum on political reform.

According to activists, one out of five registered voters responded to the referendum, indicating that there was a need for political reform.

Soon after, on July 1, a huge demonstration was taken out in support of reforms. July 1, was the day the British handed over Hong Kong to China.

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