The Major differences between the US and Hong Kong protests

The Major differences between the US and Hong Kong protests

Beijing has compared the storming of the US Capitol Building and the break-in of the Hong Kong Legislative Council on 1 July 2019, calling out the West’s hypocrisy over its different attitudes.

“Similar events happened but some people in the US, including the media, have totally different reactions,” said China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chun-ying.

Some outside of China have also drawn comparisons between the two event

However, despite the superficial similarities, there are actually many important differences.

I reported from inside the legislative chamber that night. Protesters did damage the building, spray graffiti and deface the Hong Kong emblem, resulting in HK$39 million ($5m; £3m) worth of damage. However, the chamber was empty before the protesters broke into the building – and no one was armed.

The storming of the Legislative Council also won public sympathy.

One widely-quoted piece of graffiti from that night had the slogan: “It was you who taught me that peaceful marches are useless”, referring to the government’s disregard of the two earlier peaceful marches that were attended by up to two million people. Protesters also set up a sign telling others not to destroy the library, and left money for drinks they took.

But the most important difference is that Hong Kong is not a democracy – its Legislative Council is designed in a way that makes it almost impossible for the pro-democracy camp to win a majority, and those protesters were demanding democratic reform, rather than the overturning of an election result.

Now, any organised attempt by the pro-democracy camp to win a majority may be an offence under the National Security Law recently imposed by Beijing – as shown on Wednesday, when more than 50 activists who organised and participated in pro-democracy primaries were arrested.