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For the past 6 months, the world nations are aware of the serious protest that is taking place in Hong Kong against the passing of the Extradition Bill and several issues that took the spotlight thereon. This geo political mess has made a great impact on trade and commerce among different countries.
Chronology of the past events:
Hong Kong was originally ruled by the Qing dynasty until the treaty of Nanking was signed in 1842. The treaty leads to the ceding of the territory to the British. In the 1980s China initiated the talks with the UK government for transferring the territories to them and the concept of “One country two systems” was promised which was introduced by Deng Xiaoping. According to this principle, Hong Kong and Macau shall have their own economic and administrative systems and Main Land China shall control their defense and diplomacy.
By taking into account the principle, the Sino- Beijing Joint Declaration was signed on December 19, 1984, between the UK and China which guaranteed autonomy to Hong Kong after 1997. Consequently, in the year 1997, Hong Kong was declared to be a region of China and it became a special administrative region.
Reasons for the introduction of the extradition bill:
The main reason for the outbreak of the protest is passing the extradition bill which was the outcome of the murder of a young girl named Poon Hui Wig by her boyfriend Chan Tong Kai which took place in Taiwan. He later returned to Hong Kong and confessed about the crime there. He could not be charged for those crimes and could not be extradited to Taiwan because there was no extradition agreement between those two countries. This resulted in bringing changes to the fugitive laws.
The government proposed changes in the ordinance which helps in establishing a mechanism for carrying out case by case transfer of the fugitives to the respective lands where they committed the crime. The major concern of the pro-democratic protesters is that the Beijing has a greater involvement with the changes that were proposed to be brought in the fugitive offenders ordinance and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters ordinance which is in contradiction with the one country two systems policy which was ratified post-1997 and hence the protests.
Nature of protests and how it changed:
No specific organization has claimed them to be responsible for these protests. The protest usually consists of young people who are mostly students. Though the protest started peacefully, violence and riots broke off later between the police officials and the protestors when an emergency regulation ordinance was introduced which prevented the protests from wearing masks in public gatherings. During the 70th year celebration of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, a protestor was shot in the chest by the police amidst the chaos. Similarly, another man lost his life after being hit by the bricks and a man was set on fire. This was one of the main causes for the eruption of violence among the protestors.
On July 21, a clash developed in between a mob and the protestors and police remained silent. The protestors lost trust on the police after such incident.
Another main reason for the violence among the crowd is because of spreading of rampant misinformation and conspiracy theories that are being circulated in the internet. The protestors are also accusing the Beijing government of employing infiltrators among their crowd.
The protestors are gathered at the airports and are forcing the authorities to cancel their flights. To disrupt the crowd, the police are using tear gas and rubber bullets to contrail the protestors. The protest marked to be the most violent of all post-1997.
Demands of the protestors:
The main aim of the one nation two systems doctrine is to give certain autonomous status to the country. However, the pro-democratic protests are of the view that the Mainland China is trying to curb the autonomy by introducing laws that may exploit the civil rights of the Hong Kong protestors by introducing the extradition bill by the Hong Kong government.
One of the main demands put forth by the protests is to scrape the bill from being passed in the parliament. The protestors wanted to conduct a thorough investigation towards police brutality and they would rather prefer not to call these a ‘riot’. They wanted the arrested protestors to be released from the prison. The main person responsible for the bill being introduced was Carrie Lam, Chief executive and the protestors want her to resign from her post.
The pro-democratic supporters wanted to establish universal adult suffrage in the elections of the legislative council and chief executive.
The reaction of Chinese administration:
The Beijing government and their media are strong of the opinion that the US played an important role concerning the instigation of these protests and that they have a strong hand behind these protests. The president Xi Jinping supports Carrie Lam’s government and he established his desire to reiterate the principle of ‘One nation One system’ at the event on October 1 which is the day of celebration of the establishment of People’s Republic of China.
He also accuses the protestors of showing signs of terrorism and they are violating the principles of rule of law. He appreciated the Carrie Lam’s leadership in handling the arrests of the protestors.
The Chinese military has their forces present in the country but it is seen as threat rather than an actual intervention by the Beijing government. As of the present day, the Beijing government has not taken any direct actions. They left the matters to be dealt by the local government.
Leaders of several nations have delivered their opinions on the ongoing protests. The Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison aligns with the claims of the protestors and asks the Chief Executive, Carrie Lam to listen carefully to the protestors and arrive at a peaceful and calm solution.
The European Union wants the fundamental rights of the protestors of assembly and expression has to be respected by the government while though the USA stays neutral concerning the issue, President Trump says that he is hoping for China and Hong Kong to figure out the way to work out a better solution.
The United Kingdom wants the right of the protestors to be heard and then Prime Minister Theresa May states that China has to be abiding by the principle enunciated in the International law concerning the Sino British Joint Declaration and has to be respected by China.
While these protests are being carried out in the country, it is pertinent for the Chinese government to come to an amicable solution to avoid any sort of damage to either of the countries. The Beijing government must take into consideration the fundamental rights of these protests from not being violated and on the other hands take measures to restore peace and public order.
Author: Shuruthi from Sastra University, Thanjavur.
Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.