Researcher, Department of Sociology and Area Studies
Tokyo City University, Tokyo, Japan
While Hong Kong is struggling to retain its freedom and civil liberties, China wants to grip Hong Kong in more effective manner. Since 1997, when Hong Kong became part of China under one nation two systems policy, there were several protests on the Honk Kong streets in apprehension of Chinese dominance. This recent movement broke out on Sunday and as claimed by the organizers, the Civil Human Rights front, around 1.03 Million people marched against The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019. The Hong Kong Journalists Association issued a statement saying that the amendment would "will not only threaten the safety of journalists but also have a chilling effect on the freedom of expression in Hong Kong.” further stating, "This sword hanging over journalists will muzzle both the journalists and the whistleblowers, bringing an end to the limited freedom of speech that Hong Kong still enjoys.” American Chamber of Commerce, The Hong Kong Bar Association actively supported the movement citing the Extradition Bill as anti-people, which is yet to become law. The Common citizens of Hong Kong enjoy freedom which their counterparts in mainland China have been denied for decades.
China has emerged as a robust economic and military power in last two decades. It has greater influence than ever, globally, now-a-days. The success of previous protests in Hong Kong was just notional. It is evident that China is not going to govern Hong Kong in a pious manner and it will indirectly try to control it in such a manner which suits to Government in Beijing. Several Human Rights activists are behind the bars or facing legal cases. Some of them were forced to leave the country. The global community is either neutralor has become just a silent spectator to happening of the Honk Kong due to their economic interests, primarily. A Government spokesperson said in a long statement, The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 (the Bill) aims to deal with a murder case which happened in Taiwan in early 2018 involving Hong Kong residents. At the same time, it seeks to plug the loopholes in Hong Kong's overall co-operation mechanism in criminal and juridical assistance matters, including the geographical restrictions and impractical operational requirements under the existing laws. The Government's proposed amendments, which have been thoroughly and prudently considered, can achieve these two objectives. The proposed amendments do not pinpoint any particular jurisdiction. After the legislative amendments, Hong Kong can, where necessary, using the same set of standards and under the principle of mutual respect, handle serious criminal cases by case-based surrender arrangements with a jurisdiction that does not have any long-term surrender of fugitive offenders arrangement with Hong Kong. The proposed legislative amendments will not affect any long-term agreements in force. All existing human rights and procedural safeguards provided for in the current legislations will be maintained under the case-based arrangements. These include the double criminality principle, protection against death penalty, restriction against re-surrender, rule against double jeopardy, application for habeas corpus and right to appeal and judicial review, etc. The Government will thoroughly and carefully consider each case. The executive authority and the court will perform their respective gate-keeping roles in handling all surrender requests. The Government will reject any surrender request if it could not meet the legal requirements.
Journalists, Human Rights activists, and Business groups didn’t take the statement in good sense and came out for protests. Any such protest which defies the decision of Government like China will not survive long without the active intervention of global community and destined to die sooner or later.