Dangerous Victory

9 July 2019


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Hong Kong Government Surrenders on Extradition Law


The Hong Kong government surrendered a few hours ago to the protesters in the city's streets. The law that would have allowed the extradition of people in Hong Kong to face trial on the Chinese mainland will not proceed. Chief Executive Carrie Lam has called the proposed legislation "dead." She has stopped short of completely withdrawing it, and she probably won't. Yet that is a face-saving measure. The people in the streets have won. That is a very dangerous thing for the Beijing government.

The mainland communist government wants to erode the special status of Hong Kong before the status lapses in 2047 (50 years after Britain gave the territory back to Beijing). The original deal made sense, "one country, two systems," as it allowed Hong Kong to be the goose that laid golden eggs for the PRC. With the great strides the mainland's economy has made since 1997, the special status makes less sense economically, and it has always been a political threat. The relative freedom people of Hong Kong enjoy was viewed as the vector for democratic contagion in the PRC. So, the policy in Beijing has been to reduce the specialness of the territory's status.

The extradition law was seen as a reasonable change from the ChiCom's point of view, but the protesters saw the inevitable outcome. The Beijing government would be able to invent charges against a person like rape or theft or assault and use those to grab dissidents and others who make the red fascists uncomfortable. Consequently, hundred of thousands filled the streets, They even occupied the legislature building last week.

Ms. Lam will not proceed with the bill, and when the legislative session ends, so will the bill. However, she has not fully withdrawn it. Letting it die on the vine allows her a fig leaf, and perception in Chinese politics is exceedingly important. This approach means she may continue in her job rather than being sacked by her masters in the Forbidden City. Yet, the protesters are not satisfied.

The Guardian notes, "Lam also refused to meet other demonstrator demands, including for the release of those arrested in the protests and an independent investigation into police use of force on protesters on 12 June -- when teargas, rubber bullets and truncheons were deployed on largely peaceful crowds."

"The campaign will go on. People want concrete results; they are not happy with what they have seen so far," said Joseph Cheng, a retired political scientist at the City University of Hong Kong.

That, of course, is what bothers Beijing so much. They are used to giving orders, not negotiating with the people (and certainly not taking orders from an electorate). At present, the troops of the People's Liberation Army stationed in and around Hong Kong have not made an appearance on the streets. The government is relying on the police to manage things for now. 

At some stage, the protesters will go too far for the hardliners in the party. What they want is simply more than the government is prepared to give. Yet, the partial success of the protests against the extradition law will only harden the protesters resolve. 

"The core of this political movement is the demand for free elections, because all governance crisis stems from political inequality," said Joshua Wong, a student leader in the 2014 protests and secretary general of the Demosisto party. "Protests continue," he said.

The question is for how long with the peaceful protests be permitted?

© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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