These ongoing protests in Hong Kong are a sign of human rights suffering under a lack of universal suffrage in the region and a real desire for democratic change. The bigger issue of the lack of democratic development in Hong Kong stems back to the 1997 handover of the island from the UK to China, and the decade of democratic developments that preceded it. Opinion polls of the last election showed that the people of Hong Kong favoured the opposition John Tsang over Pro-Beijing Carrie Lam, so if the island was allowed a democratic election there would likely be a very different atmosphere in Hong Kong.
Both the push for autonomy and social reforms in Hong Kong, and protests and strike/labour movements, have a long history in this former British colony, with labour strikes occurring in 1844, 1858, 1862, 1863, 1872, 1888 and 1894. Protest continued as socialist and Marxist ideas spread from the mainland at the start of the 20th century, culminating in the 1922 Seamen’s strike and the 1925/6 Guanzhou-Hong Kong strike. This was followed by a colonial suppression which banned the free association of workers in unions in order to dismantle labour movements, although various student movement protests and leftist riots continued in the following decades, including a brief call for self-governance in the 1960s. However it wasn’t until 1984 and a proposition of electoral reform by the colonial government, carried out the following year, which represented the first small steps toward democratic reform in Hong Kong.
The need for further protests has just been amplified following the recent events of Carrie Lam’s retraction of the extradition bill that sparked these particular protests, proving the protesters have essentially overcome this very first hurdle. Demonstrators have continued to protest, some who see Lam's decision as a suspension are seeking an official retraction of the bill which remains illusive, while others continue to protest police conduct and for greater press freedom amidst a violent backlash from police and suspected organised crime gangs. The need for a continued firm stance over the very corrupt nature of Hong Kong's political landscape have been hammered home by the lack of police presence following violence of gangs in white shirts against members of the public wearing black shirts (common apparel amongst protesters), and the photographed links of these suspected mafia groups to pro-Beijing MP Junius Ho. The only thing that will solve this issue is the granting of open elections in Hong Kong, and like other movements for universal suffrage, protests need to be varied and continuous until these goals and many other necessary reforms are achieved.