GP Insights # 63, 12 June 2019
On Sunday 9 June 2019, Hong Kong saw its biggest protest in five years as millions of people in Hong Kong took the streets to protest against proposed amendments to the extradition laws to mainland China. The proposed amendments are debated on this week again.
What is the background?
The United Kingdom controlled Hong Kong until it gave the territory back to China in the year 1997. However, the United Kingdom gave Hong Kong back with the expectation that Hong Kong would act as a mostly independent actor for at least fifty years. So, until 2047, Hong Kong and mainland China function as "One country, two systems" policy.
With the introduction of the new amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters ordinance, some people argue that the new rules will bring Hong Kong's self- government to an end before 2047. Currently, Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with China, Taiwan or Macau, which the Hong Kong Bar Association says was a "deliberate decision" because of the "fundamentally different criminal justice system operating in the mainland's track record on the protection of fundamental rights".
However, the whole reason these amendments were proposed because of a specific case. A local Hong Kong man named Chan Tong- Kai is suspected of murdering his pregnant girlfriend while the two were vacationing in Taiwan. Because Hong Kong has no pre-existing extradition agreement with Taiwan, he cannot be sent to face the trail of murder there and since Hong Kong courts have no jurisdiction over crimes committed in Taiwan, Chan Tong - Kai can't be tried for murder there either. If the new amendments were to be passed, it would make it to Hong Kong could extradite suspected criminals to places where there is no formal extradition treaty in place that includes Taiwan and China. The Chief executive officer who is not elected but chosen by election committee accountable to China would approve these extraditions of high crime on a case by case basis. While the courts in Hong Kong will get to review the chief executive's decisions, some argued that this amendment would allow mainland China to have some control over the criminal system in Hong Kong.
What is China's position in Hong Kong?
The status of Hong Kong in China is the "One country, two systems policy".
China claimed that a lot of dissidents and criminals take refuge in Hong Kong, to escape persecution in mainland China. So, with the extradition bill convicts can be extradited on vague national security charge and can be tried in the courts of mainland China. If the bill is passed, then any pro-democratic, anti - China, anti-authoritarian voices can be interpreted as a security threat.
The extradition bill is an attempt by China to interfere and control Hong Kong law and order, with an action plan to sabotage and thwart any anti- China or separation movements.
China is bullying Hong Kong and extending its authoritarian influence over the relatively free administration of Hong Kong. More protest is going on as lawmakers debated the potential amendments to the Extradition Bill. A final vote could come as soon as mid- July.