By ALICE CHEKUNOVA, age 10

The umbrella has become a symbol in the Hong Kong protests. One says, "I am a student. I support Hong Kong," and another says, "Not afraid of rain, not afraid to protest." PHOTO: Daniel Law
The umbrella has become a symbol in the Hong Kong protests. One says, “I am a student. I support Hong Kong,” and another says, “Not afraid of rain, not afraid to protest.” PHOTO: Daniel Law

In September 2014, proposed changes to how Hong Kong votes for its leaders have led to large peaceful protests in the streets, many run by young students.

Hong Kong, a region of 7.2 million residents, is a part of the People’s Republic of China, which does not use a “one person, one vote” system of electing leaders. But because Hong Kong was ruled by Britain until 1997, it has been allowed to use different voting rules than China.

But protesters believe that China has too much power over Hong Kong. Right now in Hong Kong, a chief executive (who is like a governor) is elected with a majority vote from a 1,200-person “election committee” full of people who support Beijing, China’s capital. In 2007, China said Hong Kong could have a popular election in 2017, but this August, China changed the rule. They said the committee would choose up to three people to run for office, and then Hong Kong residents could vote on those candidates.

Protesters believe that China has too much power over Hong Kong, a region of 7.2 million residents. PHOTO: hurtingbombz/flickr
Protesters believe that China has too much power over Hong Kong, a region of 7.2 million residents. PHOTO:hurtingbombz/flickr

That doesn’t seem fair to protesters, who feel Beijing-selected politicians tend to side with corporations and the rich.

“The younger generation feels the future of Hong Kong falls on its shoulders,” 17-year-old protester Agnes Chow told the New York Times. “Without a democratic system, there is no pressure on the government to change.”

Not everyone thinks the proposed voting change is a bad idea, though. A South China Morning Post poll said that 39 percent of residents believe the changes should be approved.

Some believe the protests are causing other problems. “So many popular tourist areas are being shut down […]” said Regina Ip, a pro-Beijing lawmaker, to the Times. “Clearly a lot of economic damage is being inflicted, and also very severe damage to our image overseas.”