A series of protests have recently shaken up the political climate of Hong Kong. Demonstrations since the previous week have been taking place in order to contest Hong Kong’s new potential extradition law. It is believed that millions have stormed the streets over the past few days and braved rubber bullets, tear gas, and intimidation as a call to their government.
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) June 17, 2019
The first thing to clear up in understanding the situation is defining what extradition is and why it matters so much to the people of Hong Kong. So, extradition refers to delivering a criminal from one area of jurisdiction into another to face the law. It is often done for nationals who commit a crime in a foreign country but are brought back to their home country. This kind of treaty is actually quite common between countries, with Hong Kong even participating in a good number of their own.
The question then is, if their issue is not with extradition in principle what is it about this new policy which fuels their anger so much?
One thing is that the stipulations of the policy subsume Hong Kong’s judiciary under China’s. The policy would allow extradition to take place in China, Hong Kong, and Macau. Individuals committing criminal offenses in any of these areas would be subject to China’s judicial system. This goes in direct contradiction of the one country, two systems principle which guides Hong Kong and China’s relationship.
Now that is a hell of a photo of the Hong Kong protests. pic.twitter.com/KGUJtJld8K
— james crabtree (@jamescrabtree) June 17, 2019
This constitutional principle states that distinct regions like Hong Kong and Macau ought to be able to function independently of China in terms of economic and administrative systems. One such important facet would be the judicial system. Hong Kong’s distrust in China makes that distinction even more important. Their belief in China’s proceedings of arbitrary detentions, unfair trials, and torture under the judiciary makes it an impossible policy.
On the whole, the move towards this bill has signified closer ties to China. With tensions rising due to the resistance of reunification with China, it was practically inevitable for protests to break out. The first protest organized last June 12 was a move meant to prevent Hong Kong’s legislators’ ability to discuss the bill further. Tens of thousands of individuals blocked central Hong Kong to bar entrance to the city’s legislature.
Eventually, violence broke out as protestors tried to enter key government offices while the police responded aggressively. Protestors were struck by various deterrents like rubber bullets and tear gas but continued in their fight, nonetheless.
More than 25 percent of Hong Kong's population of 7.4 million people protested this weekend. By proportion, these are the largest protests in modern history. Absolutely stunning. pic.twitter.com/5YAR1xDMjT
— Isaac Stone Fish (@isaacstonefish) June 17, 2019
Their commitment to the cause awarded them with Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam promising to suspend discussions on the bill. However, people remained unhappy with this compromise on the bill and other insufficiencies of the government. Another protest on June 17 broke out, with nearly 2 million people in attendance according to a Human Rights Front protest group. Now, they ask not only for the removal of the bill from discussion, but the removal of Lam from the government as well.
Chloe Yim, a youth part of the demonstration, said of their presence: “If Carrie sees so many people come out, and still doesn’t listen – she’s being an autocrat who doesn’t listen to people. Hong Kong people can’t accept that.”
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