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CWA # 336, 17 September 2020

Global Protest Movements
‘The Revolution of Our Times’: Protests in Hong Kong

  Harini Madhusudan

What began with a murder in Taiwan, the Hong Kong protests, ran strong for months before it took a backseat due to the pandemic. What is the relevance of pro-democracy protests in China’s autonomous regions? What are issues, causes and major trends in the Hong Kong protests? What can be expected from the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement in the future?

What began with a murder in Taiwan, the Hong Kong protests, ran strong for months before it took a backseat due to the pandemic. What is the relevance of pro-democracy protests in China’s autonomous regions? What are issues, causes and major trends in the Hong Kong protests? What can be expected from the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement in the future?

Background
The extradition bill was introduced in February 2019, called the ‘Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation 2019,’ and covers China and other jurisdictions that do not have an extradition agreement with Hong Kong. The need for this bill came when a man killed his girlfriend in a hotel room, on their trip to Taiwan, and returned to Hong Kong. He could not be tried for this murder due to the lack of a formal agreement on extradition between the autonomous regions and China. In this context, the bill was introduced to establish transfer of fugitives for Macau, Taiwan and the mainland.

The existing extradition law in Hong Kong allows transfer of fugitives with approximately 18 countries but, specifically mentions that extradition does not apply to “the Central People’s Government or the government of any other part of the People’s Republic of China.” The proposed amendment would have allowed any country to request for extradition of criminal suspects, even with countries it does not have an extradition treaty with, the Hong Kong government would have to consider such requests. However, the amendment mentioned that it would consider requests on a case-by-case basis by the Chief.

Critics to the amendment felt that this would give undue advantage to the Chinese Government to subject people to unfair trial, detention and torture, arbitrarily. Immediately, from lawyers to church groups, hundreds of petitions were raised against the amendment, criticizing its credibility. Another concern to the critics were the poor state of protection norms for defendants under Chinese Law.

With this as the background. the protests began in Hong Kong. They were peaceful and well organised for the first few months. Many observers lauded the attempts in Hong Kong, and named the protests as an ideal attempt for challenging authority.

Click the PDF file to read the full essay. It was first published in the NIAS Quarterly on Contemporary World Affairs, Vol 2, Issues 2&3. 

 

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