June 18, 2019 | News | No Comments
On Saturday, Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, announced the indefinite suspension of an extradition bill that, during the past week, had brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets—where they faced water cannons, pepper spray, and, for the first time in decades, rubber bullets—in perhaps the territory’s largest demonstrations since the former British colony was returned to China, in 1997. But a suspension wasn’t enough, and, on Sunday, by some estimates as many as two million people staged another march, demanding a withdrawal of the bill and Lam’s resignation.
The push for the bill, which would enable China to extradite criminal suspects to the mainland (with rare exceptions, law-enforcement officials from the mainland are not allowed to operate in Hong Kong), came after the murder, in February of 2018, of a young woman from Hong Kong who was on vacation with her boyfriend in Taiwan. The man, a Hong Kong resident, confessed to the crime, but he can only be tried for it in Taiwan, with which Hong Kong has no extradition agreement. Instead, he was sentenced to prison on lesser charges of money laundering.
When the government of Hong Kong proposed the bill, in February of this year, its supporters, including Lam, argued that it would close a legal loophole and enable suspected criminals to be sent to jurisdictions with which the territory has no transfer agreement, and thus protect it from becoming a haven for criminals. The government claimed that suspects would not be extradited for political offenses, but many in Hong Kong felt that the murder case was only a pretext for an overhaul of the city’s legal framework, which, along with its law-enforcement agencies, has been independent of Beijing’s. Activists—perhaps, say, those involved in political demonstrations—fear that they could be arrested on trumped-up charges, and then tried under Beijing’s judicial system. (Those fears were heightened after the government described the march on Wednesday, which saw some violent clashes with the police, as “rioting,” a crime punishable by a long prison sentence.) “Even if only a few people will actually be extradited, removing the ‘firewall’ separating Hong Kong from the judicial system in China will undermine Hong Kong’s civil liberties and the world’s confidence in Hong Kong as an international hub,” Margaret Ng, a former lawmaker, wrote to me in an e-mail. “Hong Kong will not be the same.”
Anson Chan, a former chief secretary of Hong Kong, wrote to me in an e-mail that “the proposals will, among other things, enable the rendition to mainland China, not just of Hong Kong residents but also foreign residents, and even visitors passing through the city.” She added, “The enactment of these legislative changes will leave no one feeling safe.” Many Hong Kongers, from local judges to business executives, housewives, and recent migrants, shared that sentiment. Martin Lee, the founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party and a retired legislator, told me that, in his twenty-two years as a member of the territory’s Legislative Council, he’d never seen the government try to push such a controversial bill through so swiftly. “If it was about the murder alone, they could have chosen to judge extradition on a case-by-case basis,” Lee said. “This bill aligns with Beijing’s interests.”
Hong Kong’s Legislative Council is a hybrid, in which half of the seventy seats are directly elected and half are mostly selected by industry and business groups. Beijing loyalists in the Election Committee, a separate group comprising twelve hundred representatives from various sectors, made Lam, who is sixty-two, the chief executive, in 2017. She is the first woman to hold the job. Beijing’s supporters now hold forty-three seats (several pro-democracy elected legislators were disqualified), meaning that, if the bill were put to a vote, it would almost certainly pass. Lee told me, “The government has not been representative of the Hong Kong people’s will for a long time. Now, it is openly betraying the will of its citizenry.”
The terms for the administration of Hong Kong, after it was handed back to China, were set in the 1984 Joint Declaration, signed by Britain and China, and were to be maintained for fifty years after the transfer, until 2047. At the core of the declaration were promises of autonomy—including the freedom of expression and guarantees of judicial independence—under the principle of “one country, two systems.” In recent years, however, Hong Kongers have been increasingly worried about the gradual erosion of civil liberties. In 2003, half a million people took to the streets to protest a proposed national-security law that would ban subversion, sedition, and secession. In the fall of 2014, in response to government proposals to change the electoral system, students, carrying yellow umbrellas to protect themselves from pepper spray, led weeks of mass protests in what became known as the Umbrella Movement.
More recently, in addition to disqualifying lawmakers, the government has banned a fringe pro-independence political party, jailed pro-democracy protest leaders, and expelled a veteran Financial Times journalist. Residents have been unsettled, as well, by the disappearance, beginning in 2015, of five booksellers who, it was later revealed, were in custody on the mainland, and the kidnapping, in 2017, of a billionaire named Xiao Jianhua, who was taken to the mainland, some observers believe, as part of President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crackdown. Albert Ho, a pro-democracy activist and politician, characterized the mood of the city today as a “mixture of anger, anxiety, frustration and disappointment.” Ng told me, “For the first time after the Umbrella Movement, young people are roused to stand up for Hong Kong because of their deep sense of identity. . . .I think this deep sense of identity worries Beijing, and greater and greater pressure will be brought to bear to stamp it out.”
Earlier this year, I wrote a piece on Denise Ho, the Hong Kong singer and pro-democracy activist. I learned then that Beijing’s favorite metaphor for Hong Kong is as a child born tongbao, “of the same womb.” Using the language of familial bonds is a powerful way to instill political fealty in a culture that enshrines filial piety. On Chinese social media, a heady narrative, fuelled by nationalism, has emerged of the Communist Party as a magnanimous matriarch beset by circumstances to give up her child and Hong Kong as its pampered ingrate. (The search terms “anti-extradition to China” and “Go, Hong Kong!” are blocked.) “Hong Kong youth are spoiled! They have no ethnic pride! Don’t blame them! Our country has spoiled them rotten. Letting Hong Kong people rule Hong Kong is the biggest mistake!,” a twenty-nine-year-old man posted on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. “Our economic policy has done nothing but to support them. But the youngsters reward us with their naïve, know-nothing ignorance. It’s too ironic. It’s high time we manage their universities!”
Tongbao was recently the focus of an article by Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of Global Times, a daily tabloid that is a subsidiary of the Party’s People’s Daily newspaper. Hong Kong is China’s child, Hu wrote, but it has been “adopted” for many years by the United Kingdom and the West. When the child is returned to her biological parents, he asked, what is the responsibility of the adoptive parents? “If the foster parents truly love the child, they will counsel her to get along with her biological parents and adjust to her new environment,” and not meddle. Hu concluded, “Only the fates of the mainland and HK are truly connected, because, after all, Hong Kong is as dear to China as a piece of flesh of the mainland’s own body.”
Last week, when Lam was interviewed on a local Hong Kong TV station, she, too, invoked tongbao to explain her unwillingness to withdraw the bill. “I’m a mother, too. I have two sons,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “If I let him have his way every time my son acted like that, such as when he didn’t want to study, things might be O.K. between us in the short term. But if I indulge his wayward behavior, he might regret it when he grows up. He will then ask me, ‘Mum, why didn’t you call me up on that back then?’ ” More than forty thousand Hong Kong mothers signed an open letter to her, letting her know that they, unlike her, would not use tear gas and rubber bullets on their children. But, unlike the protests in 2014, these demonstrations have involved Hong Kongers of all generations, none of whom are willing to submit to Beijing’s narrative.
Denise Ho told me over Whatsapp that she doesn’t think Lam’s suspension of the bill is enough. “Our demand is very clear, we want her to withdraw the bill,” she said. The delay is a tactic that the government uses to defuse the anger. Anson Chan told me that the suspension is nothing more than a “face-saving” measure. Talking about the protests last week, she said, “Will those who were arrested be charged, given that the Chief Executive has described the incident as a riot? Who should be held responsible?”
On Sunday, the hundreds of thousands of people who filled the streets, from Victoria Park downtown to the government district, were parents and children, students and retirees. Most of them wore black; some carried flowers. So far, more than seventy people have been injured in the protests, and a thirty-five-year-old man fell to his death after unfurling a banner denouncing the extradition bill on a shopping mall. One man was arrested after police monitored a smartphone app used to direct protesters where to go and what tactics to use; he is now out on bail. The government issued an apology for the way that the bill was handled, which had caused, it said, “substantial controversies and disputes in society, causing disappointment and grief among the people.” The statement continued, “The Chief Executive apologizes to Hong Kong citizens for this, and promises that she will take on criticisms in the most sincere and humble way, striving to improve and serve the general public.” The apologies were not accepted by the protesters, and labor unions called for strikes. On Lion Rock, a hill that overlooks the city, a large yellow banner appeared, reading “Fight for Hong Kong.” On Monday morning, the police announced that they wanted to clear the streets.
Last Friday, mothers of young protesters staged a candlelight vigil that was reminiscent of the vigils that Hong Kongers hold every June to commemorate the Tiananmen Square demonstrators. The women held up signs reading “Protect the Next Generation,” “Give Back to our Children a Hong Kong Worth Loving,” and “I Will Walk with the Young.” Helen Siu, a Chinese-American professor at Yale who also teaches at the University of Hong Kong, told me that she was most moved by the participation of a middle-aged woman she met who had moved to Hong Kong from the mainland a couple of decades ago with her husband, and had raised their daughter there. The woman works as a cleaning lady, and her daughter is now a medical student at a Hong Kong university. “She told me she was marching for them both,” Siu said of the woman. “Because, in the larger story of Hong Kong, the protests and the hope they inspired felt like the beginning of something new, not the end.”
Click Here: watford fc shirt