From two opposite sides of the globe there is a stark contrast between young adults and their view of government. While millennials in America look towards the government to solve their problems, millennials Hong Kong have been protesting to gain autonomy from their government. American millennials take for granted all their protected rights, and freedoms our country allows by pushing for big government.
Many millennials in America take part in “slacktivism” and call it a day–turning to social media to air their political grievances, slapping a hashtag on their thoughts, and hitting send. Letting their political activism live on social media has not proven to be very effective in creating real policy change. Hong Kong millennials have chosen a different approach.
The demonstrations are heading into their tenth week and show little signs of stopping. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s government has vowed they will use China’s military forces if necessary to “maintain public order.” IWF’s Foreign Policy Senior Fellow, Claudia Rosett, who is currently in Hong Kong reports that, “The protesters' demands boil down to profoundly legitimate calls for liberty, justice, and accountable government.”
As the Hong Kong situation continues to unfold, Rosett asks, “In Hong Kong, we are seeing a society grounded in freedom being engulfed in plain daylight by the world's most powerful tyranny. If that process isn't stopped now, then where and at what cost will it ultimately be stopped?”
Nathan Law is one of the most outspoken protestors and is well known for his activism, as well as being the youngest person elected to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. At 27 years old, a millennial, he explains his motivation in the Wall Street Journal, “We just do what we think is right. And if we don’t do this, we’ll regret it.”
Hong Kong is an administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. China's attempt to impose an extradition bill that would leave people vulnerable to being removed and taken to China sparked the protests.
American millennials seem to be turning away from the kind of democratic freedom to which Hong Kong millennials aspire. In fact, polls have shown time and time again, American do not value democracy as much as previous generations. Ian Bremmer, President of the Eurasia Group, supposes that, “Maybe the problem is that young Americans–and Westerners–have grown up without a facist or communist enemy to pose an existential threat.”
Nathan Law summarizes exactly what the protestors want in Hong Kong, “We’re dealing with a government that does not listen to its people, so I think that is exactly why we should not stop—because we’ve got such huge momentum, and people are getting clear that only by having a true democracy shall our rights be protected.”