The Rising Tensions and Civil Unrest in Hong Kong

A blog post by Caroline Zicca, Junior Associate.

In early 2019, Hong Kong legislatures proposed the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Bill.[1]  This Bill would amend Hong Kong’s current extradition law so that citizens of Hong Kong could be extradited to China, Taiwan and Macau; countries in which no extradition agreement existed.[2] The impetus for the amendment of the current legislation was the death of a pregnant woman in Taiwan who was murdered by her boyfriend, a resident of Hong Kong.[3] The man admitted to the murder to police in Hong Kong, but police in Taiwan were unable to charge him for the crime or extradite him because no extradition agreement existed between Hong Kong and Taiwan.[4]

This proposed bill was immediately met with resistance and protests from the citizens of Hong Kong because they feared that should they be subjected to extradition to mainland China, they would be subjected to its judicial system, which is far more oppressive and affords less protections than the more democratic system set up in Hong Kong.[5]  This was seen as a movement towards  Hong Kong losing its autonomy from mainland China, and China being able to reach its arm into Hong Kong’s judicial affairs – a reach, many feared, may eventually extend through the entire judicial, economic and social systems of Hong Kong.  As of now, however, because of the protests and strong opposition from citizens, the government has officially withdrawn the bill.[6]

However, the civil unrest and protests in Hong Kong have not subsided.[7]  The Hong Kong government ceased any further work related to the bill and officially withdrew it, but this did not stop the citizens of Hong Kong from continuing to protest to voice their grievances about their government and gain more political freedom.[8]  While the protests continued, the tensions between the citizens, the police and the government continued to rise.[9]  The citizens continue to protest in the hopes of protecting the semi-autonomous life they currently enjoy and to voice their strong position in support of protecting Hong Kong’s judicial independence from China.[10]  Even though the bill has been withdrawn, the future of Hong Kong and its autonomy is still uncertain.  It is likely the civil unrest and protests will continue until some sort of resolution between the citizens, the police, and the government can be found.

[1] Kate Mayberry, Hong Kong’s controversial extradition bill explained, Aljazeera (June 11, 2019), https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/explainer-hong-kong-controversial-extradition-bill-190610101120416.html.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5]Samantha Lock, What is the relationship between China and Hong Kong?, The Sun (Aug. 19, 2019), https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9414104/relationship-conflict-between-china-hong-kong/.

[6] Time Staff, Hong Kong Completes the Process of Withdrawing the Extradition Bill, But Will It Stop the Protests?, Time (Oct. 23, 2019), https://time.com/5707831/hong-kong-extradition-bill-withdrawal/.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] The Hong Kong protests explained in 100 and 500 words, BBC News (Nov. 28, 2019), https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-49317695.

[10] Id.

 

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