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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Lee

Pseudo Autonomy: The Fight For Hong Kong

When the extradition bill was published in March 2019, Hong Kong residents were in disbelief. The bill was passed via a rushed and covert session of the National People’s Congress, without the knowledge of the public or the Hong Kong government. Not only did they push corporations including HSBC and Standard Chartered to publicly endorse the law, legislators brazenly wrote amendments that enforced an increasingly stringent agenda. One of the amendments to the bill included criminal suspects to be directly extradited to China which received even more criticism than when the bill was first introduced. This decision denies any flexibility for the citizens of Hong Kong to process the implications of an extradition bill on their freedom as well as Hong Kong's sovereignty.

The Taiwanese murder case the authorities have been using as an excuse for the necessity of the bill involves a 19 year old Hong Kong male that allegedly murdered his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan. When the man returned to Hong Kong in 2019, Taiwanese officials requested his extradition but their appeal was repudiated due to an absence of an extradition agreement between the two nations. The most fundamental threat that this amendment poses is that it creates a medium for the Chinese government to further assert control over Hong Kong by effortlessly oppressing those who denounce the political behavior of the Chinese government. This not only denies them the rights that constitute the basis of democracy but it subjects them to an entirely foreign judicial system that lacks any resemblance to an impartial system of justice. The Chinese court runs under pressure from the Communist party, forcing them into a pattern of sacrificing transparency and neglecting its responsibility to enforce any customary legal and moral traditions. Their decisions are subject to the agenda of the party with no space for dissent, allowing them to arrest those who stray from their customized rule of law. Subsequently, on June 9th 2019, further chaos ensued as thousands of protestors marched through Central.

Months of unrest led to the Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, to indefinitely delay the bill in mid-June but opponents insisted it be revoked entirely. Disregarding desperate public outcry, the government passed the National Security Law that went into effect on June 30th, ironically an hour before the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s freedom from Britain. The rewritten version of the document details that subversion, ‘collusion with foreign powers’ and separatist movements would be deemed a violation of the law. The new rendition explicitly states that the security law is meant to be enforced by Hong Kong’s local legislature which seems to be in favor of Hong Kong. However, it also states that judges who interpret what constitutes an infraction of the law will solely be appointed by Carrie Lam, who is completely subservient to the will of Beijing.

Carrie Lam pictured with Xi Jing Ping (President of the People's Republic of China)

This extradition law represents more than being dragged to the mainland for trial, it solidifies China’s suffocating grip on an independent nation as well as advancing the process of stripping Hong Kong of its S.A.R. status. Hong Kong’s emphasis on maintaining its one country two party system, a condition advanced by Deng Xiao Ping for the release of Hong Kong to China from Britain in 1997, will inevitably fuse into one country one system. The party leadership has given up any pretence of trying to preserve a system that has allowed Hong Kong to establish itself as one of the most distinctively international places in the world, going as far as to risk international condemnation at the expense of the rights of their people. Hong Kong officials have assured that the law and its proposed amendments would ensure the protection of the city from becoming an asylum for criminals but the threat to the city’s political and judicial independence as well as democracy is evidently more pressing.


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