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Hong Kong has been going through what’s deemed as its biggest protests in history for the most of 2019.

What began as a peaceful stand against a controversial extradition bill treaty with China in June has escalated rapidly in the last few months.

In fact, the violent clashes on the streets of Hong Kong between the student-led protesters and police has left many calling this the 2019 Tiananmen Square protest.

These comparisons were drawn when thousands of student protesters occupied Hong Kong Polytechnic University and were apparently under siege, clashing with the police.

At the height of the Polytechnic University siege, hundreds of images and videos of street marches, violent clashes and arrests between the police and protesters were shared all over social media.

Why are people calling Hong Kong protests the 2019 Tiananmen Square?

1. Both are protests against actions of the Communist Party of China (CPC)

In 2019 Hong Kong, the protests were sparked by a proposed bill that would allow the extradition of fugitives to China. People feared the end of Hong Kong’s independent judicial system with CPC’s meddling, which equates to the end of its autonomy.

Protesters gather again to rally outside the Legislative Council government offices against a controversial extradition bill in Hong Kong on June 17, 2019.
(Credit: Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images via TIME)

In 1989, protesters marched through Beijing towards Tiananmen Square with calls for a more democratic government and greater political freedom.

In the 80s, China introduced the privatisation of production. But the capitalistic changes brought forth a series of social problems, such as corruption and nepotism by elite party bureaucrats which sparked concern and unhappiness.

Protestors gathered in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
(Credit: AFP via BBC)

2. Led by students

Students are at the forefront of the current protests in Hong Kong, turning universities and campuses into fortified protest camps.

Graffiti by student protestors seen at canteen of Hong Kong PolyU.
(Credit: CNN)

The Tiananmen protests 30 years ago also largely comprised of students who were mourning the death of Hu Yaobang, a former Communist Party leader who was working to push a more open political system in China.

A prominent event at the Tiananmen protests were student hunger strikes at the square.

Student hunger strike at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
(credit: Getty Images via CNN)

3. Police crackdown on protestors

The Tiananmen Square protest is tragically imprinted in the psyche of many as violent and brutal incident.

Martial law was declared in Beijing and troops began marching into the square with tanks, opening fire and arresting protesters on 3rd & 4th June 1989.

An unidentified Chinese man carrying two plastic bags nicknamed Tank Man stood in front of a column of tanks leaving Tiananmen Square on 5th June 1989, the morning after the Chinese military had suppressed the Tiananmen Square protests by force.
(Credit: Getty Images via BBC)

While Chinese official numbers stated that 200 civilians had died, other estimates put the death toll much higher, up to 10,000 deaths.

Meanwhile, eerie parallels are drawn at the Hong Kong protests 30 years later as numerous videos and images of violent clashes between the police and civilians broadcast around the world.

A police officer raised a pistol at a protester during demonstrations in Hong Kong.
(Credit: Lam Yik Fei/The New York Times)

South China Morning Post reports that the police have fired at least:

  • 11,100 rounds of tear gas
  • 6,200 rubber bullets
  • 1,400 sponge grenades and beanbags
  • 19 live rounds (which hit 3 students in the chest, thigh and abdomen)

An officer in Hong Kong carrying a Sig Sauer 516 rifle.
(Credit: Winson Wong/South China Morning Post)

Police officers are also reported to be drawing Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifles and Sig Sauer 516 multi-calibre assault rifles.

Latest reports (20th November) indicate that things are quieting down in Hong Kong after the 3-day siege of Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University where hundreds have either fled the campus or surrendered to the authorities.


Have you been following the Hong Kong protests? Let us know what you think of the situation on TRP’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

(Police respond to more menacing mob attacks by bringing out lethal anti-riot weapons not used earlier in unrest)
(Tiananmen Square Fast Facts)
(Tiananmen Square: What happened in the protests of 1989?)
(What's left of one Hong Kong university after hundreds of protesters fled)
(How China’s repression playbook backfired in Hong Kong)
(Tiananmen in Hong Kong)
(Hong Kong's student protesters are turning campuses into fortresses)

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