Debate between Hong Kong Protesters and Officials

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The article “TV Face-off Dramatizes Gulf between Hong Kong Protesters and Officials” published by Time on October 21, 2014, outlines the debate between Hong Kong government officials and university students. The debate was a culmination of more than 24 days of protests by the students who wanted to be given the right to elect their leaders. The government has been unwilling to dialogue with them, but their persistence led to the television debate. Although the title of the article aims to highlight the dramatic nature of the debate, the author’s intentions are to boost the students’ struggle by selectively highlighting their strengths and the government’s weaknesses. This essay will spotlight the strengths and weaknesses to support the claim that the author of the article defends students.

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The first weakness that the article has used to demean the government and promote the students’ struggle is the claim that the government was reluctant to call the debate a negotiation. The article gives credit to the students’ agitation by portraying the officials as rigid and detached from the people. Additionally, some of the government officials who were invited to the debate remained silent throughout the discussion. Their silence, coupled with their reference to the students using their first names, is a clear indication that they were condescending.

On the other hand, the students are referred to as the educated generation fighting for their democratic rights against the old tyrannical generation. The students are depicted as articulate and even reconciliatory in their struggle for democracy. Their clear view is explained against the government officials’ adversarial position to show sophistication and understanding of legal matters. The students’ strength is in their clarity of thought while the government’s weakness is in avoidance of the burning issues by using difficult legal terms to confuse the viewers.

The author of the article has further downplayed the government’s intention to make changes by evaluating a comment made by one of the government officials before the debate. Leung Chun-Ying, who is Hong Kong’s patrician leader, had claimed that free elections were not good because they could enable low-income people to dominate the polls. The statement was made a day before the debate. If the author’s plan was to point out how dramatic the debate was, the comments could not have been raised. However, his effort to declare support for the protesters has become clear through the inclusion of these comments.

Another point that aims to diminish the government’s credibility and aid the students relates to the promise that society would be allowed to choose their leaders in 2017. TThe problem with this promise is that the number of contestants in the election will be three and must be screened by a government committee. The students’ struggle was boosted by such arrangements by the government because democratic societies that were watching the debate were likely to disagree with the government.

The final strength that the writer uses to show support for the protesters is sampling the comments made by viewers. All the views sampled show support for the students. The author included comments of a cook, office assistant and a law professor to show that the students are supported by society. He claims that the students’ performance was so excellent that it attracted even those who were previously undecided on the issue (Fitzpatrick, 2014). There must have been those in support of the government, but the article left them out in support of the other side.

While the author may have been biased against the officials of the Hong Kong government, the issues raised by protesters are critical. It is likely that the government was guilty of many of the accusations since the debate was televised. The author could, therefore, be biased to some extent because those who watched it could raise concerns in case the author’s claims were excessively subjective. Consequently, democratic societies need to help the students struggle for democracy, which might be prolonged.

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