Hong Kong and China
2106 Kim Min Joo
A crowd of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong held a silent sit-in at the Yuen Long MTR station on Wednesday evening. This protest is continuing for a month since a group of suspected organized crime group members violently attacked demonstrators there. On July 21, after demonstrators returning to Yuen Long were attacked by a mob with weapons like iron bars. With this attack, at least 45 people were injured and some of those were injured seriously. Beyond this, in Hong Kong, the protest against an extradition bill continues over months. Then citizens of Hong Kong are why keep protesting?
To know the reason why they protest, knowing their history background will help a lot. After the defeat in the Opium War, Hong Kong was governed by the United Kingdom for more than 150 years. And the British handed it back over to China in 1997. Hong Kong is governed by the UK under a democratic system for a long time. However, China is a country that has a communist ideology. When Hong Kong is reverted to China, its government promised to ensure Hong Kong’s right of autonomy (democratic) for 50 years, dubbed “one country, two systems.” Under this law, Hong Kong handles most of its affairs internally, while Beijing is responsible for defense and foreign affairs. Also Hong Kong citizens have the right to protest, the right to a free press and freedom of speech which are not guaranteed for Chinese citizens.
The main reason why Hong Kong citizens are protesting is because of the extradition bill known as the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019. If this bill is enacted, the bill would allow local authorities to detain and extradite people who are wanted in territories that Hong Kong does have extradition agreements with, including mainland China and Taiwan. This bill was first driven because of the murder case happened in Taiwan. Last year, a 20-year-old man murdered his girlfriend in Taiwan and turned back to Hong Kong. However, its law prohibits him from punishing murder charges in other countries in accordance with the British territorial principle. Thus, to deal with this case, the government of Hong Kong came up with a revision to the extradition law allowing to summon suspects from Taiwan, China, Macao, etc. The reason why Hong Kong citizens are disagreeing with this bill is that there’s a danger that the Chinese government could make bad use of it. Actually, in 2015, 5 people from Hong Kong who publish and sell books about corruption in the Chinese government were hijacked and forced a false confession. However, it happened even before the establishment of that bill. Hong Kong citizens are worrying about this kind of case would happen more often after the enactment of the extradition bill.
Recently, an employee of the British consulate in Hong Kong who has been missing for almost two weeks has been detained in mainland China, the country’s foreign ministry confirmed this Wednesday. Simon Cheng, a 28-year-old who works as a trade and investment officer for the British Consulate-General Hong Kong, has been put in administrative detention for 15 days. He was detained by the Shenzhen police for violating China’s Security Administration Punishment Law, which covers a range of offenses deemed too minor to be crimes. This happened this week and this shows China is limiting Hong Kong citizen’s right to speak freely.