On June 17, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Hong Kong to fight the recent bill that will enable China to extradite fugitives from the city. The protest, mainly peaceful, took place in front of the city’s government headquarters.
While Hong Kong is officially recognized to be under mainland China, they maintain a strict idea of “one country, two systems,” in which mainland China and Hong Kong are subjected to different laws. The sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred to the People’s Republic of China(PRC) by the United Kingdom in 1997, after 100 years of colonization. The two nations agreed upon allowing Hong Kong to continue to strive for a democratic government and capitalistic economy, despite mainland China’s restrive communist laws.
Tensions first arose in the early 2000s, when the PRC passed several controversial policies attempting to break the boundary between Hong Kong and mainland China. With policies such as the “Individual Visit Scheme” and the “Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link,” Hong Kong believed that the PRC was attempting to dissolve the differences between Hong Kong’s political and legal system and the rest of China. This issue continues today as Hong Kong’s international and multicultural values strongly clash with Chinese traditional values.
While multiple protests occurred over the years, including the “Dolce and Gabbana controversy” in 2012, “Siu Yao-wai case” in 2015, and “CUHK democracy wall tension” in 2017, the most recent is regarding the extradition bill. The extradition bill is one that, if passed, will allow China to take its fugitives from Hong Kong. Hong Kong keeps its own judicial independence, which allows for fugitives of China to flee persecution. The problem arises because this bill potentially erodes the judicial independence of Hong Kong and provides more power to China, a prospect Hong Kong fears and disagrees with.
The Chinese government first responded to the protests firmly, remaining that the government has no intention of withdrawing the bill. Now, however, China claims that the bill will not be revived until the opinion of the people is addressed and that it will be “very unlikely” the government could pass the bill before the legislative session expires.
While the Chinese government had agreed to not carry on with the bill, the protests still continue today as people desire for the bill to be completely scrapped, leaving no possibility of ever being passed. Protesters also demand the ban of police brutality against them, as the police had fired tear gas and rubber bullets during the protest, leading to some of the worst violence in Hong Kong. Around 72 people had been injured in the violence, including two men in crucial conditions. Amnesty International highlights that June 14 had moments of “unnecessary and excessive” force by police and are “violations of international law.” While the number of protesters has been drastically reduced, the people chanting “shame on police thugs” still remain, as the desire for peace continues.