Hong Kong To Push Ahead With Extradition Law Despite Protests

Chinese President, Xi Jinping and Hong Kong Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, have attempted to push an extradition bill that would reform the Chinese judicial system entirely. The proposed law would allow trial extraditions to mainland China in an attempt to create a more thorough Chinese judicial system. Prior to this, Hong Kong was guaranteed under agreement the right to retain its own legal and political systems for nearly 50 years.

An incident that occurred over a year ago prompted Carrie Lam to expedite the passing of this bill. A Hong Kong man travelled to Taiwan with his pregnant girlfriend where he brutally murdered her and abandoned her body. He fled back to Hong Kong where authorities unfortunately had their hands tied. Due to the lack of an extradition bill, they were unable to send him back to Taiwan to face charges and he faced no legal repercussions.

Chinese officials would argue this is not an isolated incident, countless cases slip through the judicial cracks due to the lack of an extradition law. Though this bill attempts to unify and streamline legal cases across China, opposers claim it will do the opposite. Those in disagreement with the law come from all walks of life but have a similar fear, the demise of Hong Kong’s judicial powers. Also apparent to them is how difficult and potentially problematic creating a uniform legal climate across China would be. U.S.- China relations would also suffer, in a time when they might be particularly unfavourable. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus stated this bill could “subject our citizens residing in or visiting Hong Kong to China’s capricious judicial system.” The extradition bill would cause changes not only in the Hong Kong judicial system but also within international business and relations.

Disagreement has steadily grown since the bill was proposed, as have the mass protests. These protests have gone on for over a week now, posing a great danger to Chinese politicians and cities. Organizers estimate these crowds at nearly two million citizens. According to Hong Kong media reports, three officers and one journalist have been injured. One death has been reported as of yesterday, as a result of a protestor climbing up a post to hang a political banner and falling amongst the protests.

On June 15th, Carrie Lam suspended the bill due to the overwhelmingly negative Chinese response. Lam stated, “After repeated internal deliberations over the last two days, I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise, restart our communication with all sectors of society, do more explanation work.”

Sunday June 16th, another mass demonstration was organized taking up the Hong Kong streets, the third of its kind within the last eight days.

The mobilization of Chinese protestors incited political change in a climate where this does not usually occur. An act like this is incongruent with China’s political past with its reputation as a rigidly communist country. These protests are indicative of a long history of distrust between Hong Kong and Beijing, and the governments dismissal of the issue.

Citizens of Hong Kong feel as though this bill would serve as a detrimental blow to their autonomy and independence, not to mention loss of democracy. They have voiced their concerns to politicians that this bill would mark the beginning of the end for Hong Kong’s independence. China has been attempting to move towards integration of Hong Kong in order to further global trade and business ties. These protests have already set back the Chinese government’s plans. If these protests continue, it will put China far behind from where they were hoping to be.