On June 13, protests against the Extradition Act began in Hong Kong and an armed clash between protesters and the police ensued as the government desperately tried to disperse them. Since then, protests have grown so big and some protestors have taken to arming themselves further complicating the scenario. On August 12, protesters occupied the Hong Kong International Airport, causing the suspension of several passenger flights. With no end in sight for the escalation in conflict, the Dankook Herald examined the problem for our students.
On February 2019, a Hong Kong man killed his girlfriend in Taiwan and returned home quickly thereafter. The Taiwanese government requested Hong Kong extradite the murderer to face prosecution. However, there is no extradition treaty between Taiwan and Hong Kong and Hong Kong Criminal Law applies only in its principle territory, leaving the local government with no jurisdiction in this case. As a result, on June 12, Hong Kong's legislature pushed for a new extradition law. However, concerns were raised that the law could be used to extradite anti-Chinese residents to China because it included repatriation to China as well as to Taiwan. In response to citizen concerns, the Hong Kong government made three promises that political and religious offenses will not be included under this law and that it will only apply to those who commit serious crimes. They also stated that the decision for final repatriation will be decided by a Hong Kong high court, but these assurances have done little to quell the protests.
|▲ The recent Hong Kong protests have put Hong Kong-China relations at their worst. (Photo from Chosun.com)|
Hong Kong has a very unique political system. They are a city-state country that was transferred from Britain to China in 1997 after 150 years of British colonization. As a result, the Chinese government views Hong Kong as one country with China that operates under two different political systems. So even before the 2019 Hong Kong protests, there were protests against the Chinese government’s interference in Hong Kong.
At first, the protests were peaceful. They included university closures, corporate strikes, alliances of stores, etc. As a result, the Hong Kong government put the extradition bill off indefinitely. However, Hong Kong citizens further demanded the resignation of Hong Kong's administrative minister, ‘Carrie Lam’ and began demanding full independence from China.
The greater the anxiety of Hong Kong citizens that they would be subordinate to China, the more violent and more frequent the resistance grew. There were a number of clashes between citizens and the Hong Kong government. As the protests became violent, the government responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullet at the protestors. According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the Chinese government has warned it will deploy troops if the protests worsen. Then on July 21, an anonymous group of citizens wearing white colored clothing assaulted innocent Hong Kong citizens on a subway. The attackers turned out to be part of ‘Triad’, a criminal organization in China, but it was never revealed who ordered them to strike at the citizens.
|▲ Police are trying to disperse protesters against extradition law. (Photo from mk.co.kr)|
According to the Hong Kong South China Morning Post, Hong Kong Finance Minister Paul Chan said in a press conference that the GDP growth outlook for this year has drastically decreased from 2~3 percent to 0~1 percent. Hong Kong's growth rate, which stood at 4.1 percent in the first half of last year, dropped sharply from the second half of the year, to 2.8 percent in the third quarter and 1.2 percent in the fourth quarter, before posting 0.6 percent in the first quarter of this year and 0.5 percent in the second quarter. While Hong Kong has been hit so hard economically, many things have happened inside China as well. The Financial Times, a British business newspaper, reported that state-run media are trying to curtail the impact of the Hong Kong protests, covering the outcome of Xi Jinping's visit to North Korea instead. In fact, China Daily, China's state-run English-language newspaper, said in an editorial on Thursday that ‘foreign forces’ have created the chaos in Hong Kong. Public opinion of China is worsening in Hong Kong, as Chinese politicians dub Hong Kong's protests as ‘violent.’ Also, information related to the news in Hong Kong was being censored on China's largest network, Baidu.
However, a number of countries support Hong Kong. Following the lead of the United States and Britain, the European Union (EU) issued a statement supporting protests. The EU argued that the basic rights of Hong Kong residents, including freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, should be protected. They also added that the Chinese recall of the law pursued by the Hong Kong government should raise the concerns of Hong Kong residents. Despite the situation, however, conflicts between Hong Kong and China have not yet been seen as easy to resolve, as pro-China Hong Kong administrative minister Carrie Lam called the protests ‘organized riots’ and said that the Hong Kong ministry would continue to push for the extradition law.
As Hong Kong's protests intensify, people around the world hope it will end peacefully. Citizen actions are in defense of their rights to self-rule, human rights and liberalism and they are hoping to see an end to the armed crackdown and a reasonable solution to quell their concerns.
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