ON Sunday, marchers in Hong Kong protested against an extradition bill proposed by Hong Kong’s government. The organisers of the demonstration claim turnout was at around one million people, while police state that the turnout was 240,000.

The protest consisted of a march to Hong Kong’s legislative council while banners denouncing the law and calling for the territory’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, to resign were flown. Protests remained peaceful until midnight, when a clash between riot police and demonstrators erupted after attempts to disperse protesters from the area outside Hong Kong’s legislative offices were made.

The extradition legislation proposed by the Hong Kong government would allow for the transfer of fugitives between Hong Kong and regions with which it does not currently possess arrangements for such transfers, including mainland China. This bill would thus enable Hong Kong to extradite anyone living or passing through the territory – including foreign nationals –suspected of a serious criminal offence to mainland China.

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IT is feared that, if passed, the law will be used as a means by the CCP, the ruling political party of mainland China, to seize not only legitimate fugitives but also to extradite activists, dissidents and other political opponents in the region.

Critics of the bill fear that these extradited individuals would be at the mercy of unfair or fixed trials. The CCP’s extensive influence over the country’s judiciary has lead to human rights experts pointing out instances in which authorities have extracted forced confessions, used physical torture and laden false accusations against critics.

The aspect of the bill pointed to as most concerning is that it would make legal what mainland authorities have long practised in the region: the kidnap of people it deems threats even from outside its juridical borders. This is widely held to be the explanation behind the 2015 disappearance of five booksellers who were linked to a Hong Kong shop selling banned books.

Proponents of the bill emphasise that extradition requests would be handled on a case-by-case basis by Hong Kong’s authorities before being granted and that suspects accused of political and religious crimes will not be extradited. Despite these promises, there remains an overriding sense among the people of Hong Kong that this bill is another example of the CCP increasingly encroaching upon the autonomy guaranteed to the region through the “one country, two systems” framework.


HONG Kong was a British colony from 1841 until sovereignty was returned to China in 1997, upon which Hong Kong was integrated back into China as a special administrative region (SAR).

The “one country, two systems” framework is a constitutional principle introduced by China’s former leader, Deng Xiaoping, which allows SARs to maintain their own judicial independence, legislature and economic system. This principle acts in accordance with the basic law (Hong Kong’s functional constitution) that was agreed upon during Hong Kong’s handover, which guaranteed the continuation of its capitalist system and way of life for the 50 years following its handover – including the granting of residents with the protection of certain human rights and freedoms.

The National: Carrie LamCarrie Lam

The protests on Sunday were not the first time the people of Hong Kong have felt the 50-year guarantee was being violated. In August 2014, the Chinese government issued a decision stating that candidates for the new chief executive of Hong Kong would be from a list pre-approved by the CCP. This led to widespread protests in Hong Kong where many carried umbrellas as a symbol of non-violent resistance. On Sunday, many demonstrators carried yellow umbrellas in homage to those protests.


DOMESTICALLY, Lam attempted to reassure the public that the CCP is not increasing its influence within the region, stating: “This bill is not initiated by the [Chinese] central people’s government. I have not received any instruction”.

Hong Kong’s government has tweaked the bill’s proposals: lifting the minimum sentencing threshold an accused must face to be eligible for extradition from three years to seven years imprisonment; and proposing that only extradition requests from the highest overseas prosecuting authorities would be accepted.

Yesterday, the state-owned China Daily defended the legislation and blamed opposition parties and “foreign forces” for the protests in Hong Kong, while China’s ministry of foreign affairs said it continued to firmly support Hong Kong in passing the bill.

The US, UK and Canada have publicly expressed concern, while the European Union has issued a formal diplomatic “demarche” protest note, and, in a joint statement, Amnesty International, Human Rights Monitor and Human Rights Watch argued that the latest amendments do not go far enough.


HONG Kong’s administration is determined to pass the bill before July, citing the case of a man wanted for the murder of his girlfriend in Taiwan who fled to Hong Kong – where he could not be extradited – as no extradition treaty existed as a reason for urgency.

Another rally will be held tomorrow, when the second reading of the bill will be debated.