Extradition Bill and Protests in Hong Kong
In the 22 years since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule its citizens have enjoyed many freedoms and rights unheard of in mainland China. The territory was promised “a high degree of autonomy” under the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.
Hong Kong has been the most important economic hub for the investors belonging to all over the world. With its supreme location in fast-growing Asia, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has developed into an international business, trade and financial hub, as well as a renowned tourist city, providing high value-added and knowledge-intensive services to the globalized world. Hong Kong also serves as the gateway to the Mainland for overseas investors as well as a platform for Mainland enterprises to go global.
Hong Kong has also been enjoying judicial independence, freedom and liberty since 1997. But over the past few years, it has been trapped in by several polito-economic challenges. Currently, Hong Kong is really in a huge trouble. It is facing riots, and demonstrations all over its territory. Almost every street in Hong Kong is now occupied by dissenters. Every day, whether it’s morning or evening, demonstrators are on strikes and protests demanding some political rights and freedoms. Human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and students- everyone is raising slogans “NO EXTRADITION TO CHINA”.
What is Extradition Bill?
The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 is a proposed bill regarding extradition to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance in relation to special surrender arrangements and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance so that arrangements for mutual legal assistance can be made between Hong Kong and any place outside Hong Kong. Hong Kong has agreements with some 20 countries to hand over people wanted for certain crimes. Proposed changes to the law would expand that list to include China and Taiwan, subjecting anyone living in Hong Kong to a Chinese legal system that is known for using arbitrary detention and torture.
Why are there protests?
Hong Kong facing is biggest political crisis since its handover to China. Millions of protesters have participated in recent riots against Extradition Bill. Hundreds of demonstrators stormed into Hong Kong’s legislature after smashing their way in as the crisis that has gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese territory for weeks rapidly intensified. Protests have raged in Hong Kong against a controversial Extradition bill, which would allow suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. Protesters and activists have said that expanding the list of countries to which Hong Kong can send suspected criminals to include China will give Beijing yet another tool to curtail freedoms and mold the city according to China’s restrictive political and social norms. They think the new law would further damage their judicial independence and freedom of speech or movement. Many businessmen have expressed their views that this judicial amendment would allow china to catch anyone who would either against or not in favor of china.
Hong Kong has been ruled under a “one country, two systems” formula since the UK handover of the territory to China in 1997. But critics say Beijing has taken a heavier hand towards affairs in Hong Kong in recent years, diluting freedoms in the territory. However, Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming echoed this in an interview, Beijing “gave no instruction, no order about the making of this amendment,” he said, suggesting that the media had distorted the narrative. Chinese President Xi Jingping has yet to weigh in directly on protests over the extradition bill, but Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang labeled them a “riot.” He backed the Hong Kong government’s response to the protests, which included the use of tear gas against demonstrators. China has also summoned to Hong Kong’s best ally US to immediately stop all interference in Hong Kong’s affairs and stop taking action that would affect the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong
But some analysts say that with trade at the top of the agenda, neither side is likely to push too hard on the issue. Mr. Trump also explained that his country would tone down criticism of Beijing about Hong Kong’s massive riots.
Hong is facing one of the worst political challenges these days which need an immediate cure. The ongoing protests could damage Hong Kong’s economic as well as political sphere. Many commentators have suggested the executive branch to change its policy towards extradition bill. Though Carrie Lam has declared this law a “dead bill”, there is much more to be done for the satisfaction of Hong Kongers. The complete removal of the proposed amendment is yet to made.