The People of China not on Board
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets Sunday to protest the government’s controversial extradition bill with people carrying banners reading “No Extradition” through packed city streets.
More than 1 million protesters marched in Hong Kong, organizers said, to protest a bill that would allow China to extradite fugitives.
— CNN (@CNN) June 10, 2019
Protesters claim that, if passed, the amendments will put many at risk for extradition to China on politically-motivated charges and have called for Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to resign over the matter. Ortagus told reporters at the State Department that the mass demonstrations “clearly show the public’s opposition to the proposed amendments”.
Human Rights at Stake
“The United States shares the concern of many in Hong Kong that the lack of procedural protections in the proposed amendments could undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and negatively impact the territory’s longstanding protections of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic values,” she said.
Lam on Monday refused to drop the legislation. However, she vowed to reach out to critics.
'We are all terrified of this law.'
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) June 10, 2019
“The government would put on record its commitments to human rights safeguards as part of any future process,” she told reporters, promising to seek additional input from the public over the legislation.
One Country:Two Systems?
(Background analysis added by GVS news desk)
“One country, two systems” an issue being raised by the US state department is a constitutional principle formulated by Deng Xiaoping, the Paramount Leader of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), when he advocated the reunification of China during the early 1980s. And when Britain finally ceded the colony to China, it 1997, it was under this principle that had to continue till next 50 year – still 2047.
Deng had suggested to Britain that there would be only one China, but distinct Chinese regions such as Hong Kong and Macau could retain their own economic and administrative systems, while the rest of the PRC (or simply “China”) uses the socialism with Chinese characteristics system. Under the principle, each of the two regions could continue to have its own governmental system, legal, economic and financial affairs, including trade relations with foreign countries.
Hong Kong was a colony of the United Kingdom, ruled by a governor for 156 years from 1841 (except for four years of Japanese occupation during WWII) until 1997, when it was returned to Chinese sovereignty. China had to accept some conditions, stipulated in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, such as the drafting and adoption of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution before its return.
The Basic Law agreed between both sides, ensured Hong Kong will retain its capitalist economic system and own currency (the Hong Kong Dollar), legal system, legislative system, and people’s rights and freedom for fifty years, as a special administrative region (SAR) of China. Set to expire in 2047, the current arrangement has permitted Hong Kong to function as its own entity in many international settings (e.g., World Trade Organization and the Olympics) rather than as a part of China.
As per this arrangement, Chinese renminbi is still not legal tender in Hong Kong. Likewise, the Hong Kong Dollar is not accepted in stores in China. With this arrangement, a permit or visa is required when passing between the borders of Hong Kong and China, and people in Hong Kong generally hold Hong Kong SAR passports rather than Chinese passports.
The official languages are a major factor besides the history of the former colony that has made Hong Kong and China distinct from each other, as Cantonese and English are the most widely used languages in Hong Kong while Mandarin is the official language of China.
The central government in Beijing maintains control over Hong Kong’s foreign affairs as well as the legal interpretation of the Basic Law. The latter has led democracy advocates and some Hong Kong residents to argue that the territory has yet to achieve universal suffrage as promised by the Basic Law, leading to mass demonstrations in 2014.