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Hong Kong Protests Latest


Protests in Hong Kong against an unpopular extradition bill entered their tenth week today with multiple demonstrations across the city. The protests have become increasingly violent, and so has the police response. Neither side appears willing to compromise or back down. That's leading many residents and observers to wonder how long can this go on? How will it end? And what does the future hold for one of Asia's major cities? NPR's Anthony Kuhn joins us from Hong Kong. Morning, Anthony.


PFEIFFER: Can you tell us about the kinds of protests happening in the city?

KUHN: Yeah. The protesters really get busy on the weekends. And there were two big ones today. One was up in the north - in the New Territories in the north of the city, where protesters blocked roads until police cleared them out with tear gas. And then the other was at Hong Kong's airport, where the arrivals hall was just flooded by this massive sit-in of young people dressed in black. And let's hear what that sounded like in the arrivals hall.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting in Cantonese).

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in Cantonese).

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting in Cantonese).

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in Cantonese).

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting in Cantonese).

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in Cantonese).

KUHN: You can hear them cheering in Cantonese, Go Hong Kong people, and step down Carrie Lam, who is, of course, their top leader. And so as I was there today, I heard these people passing out pamphlets and explaining in many, many languages to visitors what is going on in this city that's been convulsed by these protests.

PFEIFFER: So what are you hearing from the protesters, and especially from the visitors to the airport, which I understand you saw as you flew in?

KUHN: That's right. Well, the protesters' message is basically that they want this bill allowing China to extradite people from Hong Kong - they want it permanently scrapped. They want Carrie Lam to step down, and they want to elect their own leaders democratically. And they want accountability for what they see as police brutality. And they made these points with great conviction, and even humor.

It was also really interesting to see the reaction of visitors, especially people from mainland China, who've often never seen these things before. And while I was there, I met this guy from Central Henan Province named Lei Yong, and he started yelling at the protesters and getting really exercised. Let me play for you what he told me.

LEI YONG: (Speaking foreign language).

KUHN: He's saying, "this bill must be implemented. How can you not punish the bad guys?" And his point is that if you don't extradite the criminal suspects from Hong Kong back to China, then Hong Kong is going to become a safe haven for outlaws and fugitives. And it just shows this huge disparity, this gap in the thinking and the culture of people in mainland China and Hong Kong.

PFEIFFER: Anthony, what has the reaction been from Beijing?

KUHN: Well, the government and state media started slow, but they've really ramped up the propaganda and gone into overdrive. And now they're pumping out reams of reports painting the protesters as black-clad hooligans who are terrorizing and inconveniencing Hong Kong residents and making it clear that Beijing will not let this chaos go on indefinitely. And that's what is fueling this sense of concern and uncertainty about the future in Hong Kong.

PFEIFFER: That's NPR's Anthony Kuhn. He joined us from Hong Kong. Anthony, thank you.

KUHN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.