Hong Kong/Beijing: Hong Kong’s pro-China chief executive, Carrie Lam, outright refused to back down on the issue concerning the controversial extradition bill saying, ‘The bill to handover criminal suspects to the other countries has not been made with an initiative from China’s ruling Communist Party. I have not received any instructions from anyone regarding it. The opposition is misinformed.’ Lam’s refusal to withdraw or delay the legislation has increased the discontent amongst the people of Hong Kong and shows indications of the agitation against China further intensifying.
A few months ago, the Hong Kong government had prepared a bill under the pretext of making improvements to law and order in the city. The administration was planning to bring the bill to the full legislature by bypassing the committee process secretly and getting it approved. However, the critical and controversial provisions in the proposed law have been exposed. These include a provision to handover criminal suspects to China’s mainland for further legal action. On the other hand, Hong Kong’s locals fear the ruling Communist regime would misuse the provision to detain the pro-democracy activists and writers as also take action against them.
Earlier in 2014, the youth in Hong Kong had initiated a great agitation, to protest against the Chinese oppression. The protests were called the Umbrella Movement while some of the protesting youth had even entered into Hong Kong’s politics. The administration took legal action against the members of the parliament, who were consistently taking a hard-line stance against China and imprisoned them. Even though the demonstrations quelled after that, the record protests on Sunday bear witness to the anti-China sentiment within the people of Hong Kong, which remain intense.
In 1997, when the UK government handed over Hong Kong to China, Beijing had agreed to let the city manage its affairs under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle. It guaranteed that the social, legal and political systems in Hong Kong would continue for 50 years, from the time of the handover. Nevertheless, the Chinese government is deviating from the agreement for the last few years and is trying to pressurise Hong Kong to implement the ‘one country, one system’ policy.
The ‘Million March’ protests on Sunday have sent out the message that China’s oppression is not acceptable to the people of Hong Kong and are capable of teaching China’s ruling regime a lesson. Despite China’s success in growing its clout globally over the last few years, the criticism being showered against it over the issues concerning democracy and human rights remains constant. If China continues with its oppressive policies and pressurises Hong Kong, the state may most likely have to face its consequences internationally. Therefore, it would be critical to observe the strategy that China chooses to adopt on Hong Kong over the next few days.