Local professor gives insight on Hong Kong protests

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7)— Tensions between Hong Kong and China remain high after days of protests while Hong Kong tries to maintain its freedom.

“If you shut down that airport, you’re doing something that’s financially significant to the territory, again, so they can’t ignore it,” said Paige Tan, a professor of political science at Radford University.

Tan has specialized in Asian studies for 35 years. She says over the last seven years or so, Chinese have been encroaching on their freedom. She said it has gotten even worse since June when Hong Kong's government tried to pass a bill could extradite anyone to mainland China.

“The Hong Kong people have been kind of pushed and pushed and they feel like they have to stand up, we have to stand up against these encroachments on our freedom, that’s why it has snowballed to such a big protest,” Tan said. “There’s a chance that things could really spiral in a bad direction.”

She said one of the reasons China is pushing more for control is because Hong Kong used to make up 20 percent of its economy, but now it’s only three.

“It’s just not that big of a deal anymore from the Chinese perspective, and that’s one reason why we see the Chinese pushing on it harder because it’s not so special anymore,” she said.

Although America has taken a back seat on the issue, Tan said the Chinese believe we are behind the protests. Some of the protesters can be seen holding American Flags.

“It serves them right to say it’s not these Hong Kong people, it’s these Americans who are pushing them to do this,” she said.

Tan said China is still deciding how they want to play this out, but either way it shows us how powerful they will be.

“I don’t think the Chinese know just yet exactly what’s going to happen, I don’t think they’ve made a decision for themselves. It’s best for them if the Hong Kong government is able to solve it,” Tan said. “It serves them right to say it’s not these Hong Kong people, it’s these Americans who are pushing them to do this.”