China – Hong Kong July 2019 –

Written by  //  September 4, 2019  //  China  //  No comments

Hong Kong extradition law
China – Hong Kong 2012 -2019
From a murder case to the death of ‘1992 consensus’,
Taiwan’s high stakes in the Hong Kong protests

Panorama of Hong Kong City; Shutterstock ID 357652193; Usage: web; Issue Date: N/A
4 September
Hong Kong protesters dismiss formal withdrawal of extradition bill as ‘band-aid on rotting flesh’
(SCMP) Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has formally withdrawn the controversial extradition bill that has caused nearly three months of social unrest in Hong Kong.
With the move, the government has met one of the key demands of protesters who have taken to the streets over the past 13 weeks in demonstrations that have turned increasingly violent. Two masked protesters later held a civilians’ press conference outside the legislative council, calling the move a band-aid on rotting flesh and reiterating their calls for “five demands, not one less”.
A government source earlier told the Post the withdrawal of the bill was to streamline the legislative agenda and was a technical move, given Lam had already declared the bill to be “dead” and pledged she would not be reintroducing it.

3 September
‘The end is coming’: China’s ‘bloody’ warning for Hong Kong
( The clock is ticking for Hong Kong, with experts pinpointing the exact day China is likely to run out of patience and resort to “bloody violence”.
Violence rising on both sides after 3 months of protests in Hong Kong
According to CBC’s Saša Petricic’s comprehensive report: “The scenes have become chilling, even in a Hong Kong that’s now hardened from three months of clashes between protesters and police. With demonstrations mostly outlawed, the same streets where millions once walked peacefully now see fires on the roadway and blood on the pavement.”

1-2 September
Special Report: Hong Kong leader says she would ‘quit’ if she could, fears her ability to resolve crisis now ‘very limited’
(Reuters) – Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said she has caused “unforgivable havoc” by igniting the political crisis engulfing the city and would quit if she had a choice, according to an audio recording of remarks she made last week to a group of business people.
At the closed-door meeting, Lam told the group that she now has “very limited” room to resolve the crisis because the unrest has become a national security and sovereignty issue for China amid rising tensions with the United States.
“If I have a choice,” she said, speaking in English, “the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology.”
Lam’s dramatic and at times anguished remarks offer the clearest view yet into the thinking of the Chinese leadership as it navigates the unrest in Hong Kong, the biggest political crisis to grip the country since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
Lam suggested that Beijing had not yet reached a turning point. She said Beijing had not imposed any deadline for ending the crisis ahead of National Day celebrations scheduled for October 1. And she said China had “absolutely no plan” to deploy People’s Liberation Army troops on Hong Kong streets.
Masked protesters wreak havoc on Hong Kong airport and trash railway station, forcing desperate travellers to head to city on foot
(SCMP) Protesters prevented from entering airport by a court injunction cause chaos outside the terminal building and leave transport in disarray
Sunday’s protests followed a night of violence after tens of thousands joined an illegal march that descended into pitched battles with riot police.
Live rounds were also fired by officers in desperate moments when they were under attack by violent mobs on Saturday.

30 August
Beijing’s Hong Kong Strategy: More Arrests, No Concessions
Officials in Beijing, along with the Hong Kong government that answers to them, have decided on a policy of stepped-up arrests of demonstrators, who would be publicly labeled the most radical of the activists, according to Hong Kong cabinet members and leaders of the local pro-Beijing establishment.
In interviews over the past two weeks, these local political figures stressed that China wants the Hong Kong police to carry out the arrests — not Chinese soldiers, whose intervention in the city’s affairs would be unprecedented.
Beijing has also ruled out making concessions to the demonstrators, they said. With protest leaders also vowing not to back down, the officials acknowledged that the price of the strategy could be months of acrimony, possibly stretching into 2020.
Tensions mount as activists, lawmakers arrested in crackdown ahead of banned march
Among those arrested are activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Andy Chan; lawmakers Cheng Chung-tai, Au Nok-hin and Jeremy Tam also held
Pan-democrats slam arrests, saying timing is meant to suppress protest movement but will backfire and fuel greater anger
(SCMP) They were detained on a slew of charges for their involvement in various protests sparked by the now-shelved extradition bill since June. The arrests came as an appeal board upheld the police’s objection to a march and rally proposed by the Civil Human Rights Front – organiser of three record-breaking marches over the past two months – for Saturday, forcing it to call off the planned action.

28 August
‘A nuclear option’: Hong Kong and the threat of the emergency law
Analysts say use of draconian law that would allow censorship, arrest and deportation could push city into bigger crisis
(The Guardian) The Hong Kong government’s hint that it may use a draconian law to quell its biggest crisis in decades has sparked widespread concern, with analysts saying it would plunge the city into a worse crisis.
The city’s leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the government will use existing laws to “put a stop to violence and chaos”, after the pro-Beijing newspaper Sing Tao Daily said the government was considering invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, a colonial era law with sweeping powers that was last used in 1967, to put an end to the current political crisis.
The violent clashes between riot police and protesters last weekend were the fiercest yet since early June, when a wave of protests started in opposition to a now-suspended extradition bill under which individuals could be sent to mainland China for trial.
Police used water cannon for the first time on Sunday along with teargas and beatings as they fought running battles with protesters, who threw bricks and petrol bombs. Protesters have been demanding the complete withdrawal of the bill, the investigation of police use of force and free elections but Lam reiterated on Tuesday she would not give into their demands.
The Emergency Regulations Ordinance, introduced in 1922, grants the city’s leader sweeping powers to “make any regulations” he or she may consider in the public interest in situations considered “an occasion of emergency or public danger.”
These regulations will empower the government to impose a series of draconian measures, including censorship, control and suppression of publications and other means of communications, arrest, detention and deportation as well as the authorisation of the entry and search of premises and the taking of possession or control of any property.

27 August
Hong Kong’s Real Problem Is Inequality
By Andrew Sheng , Xiao Geng
A powerful, but oft-ignored factor underlying the frustrations of Hong Kong’s people is inequality. And, contrary to the prevailing pro-democracy narrative, the failure of Hong Kong’s autonomous government to address the problem stems from the electoral politics to which the protesters are so committed.
(Project Syndicate) Since China regained sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997, the city has prospered economically, but festered politically. Now, one of the world’s richest cities is engulfed by protests, which have blocked roads, paralyzed the airport, and at times descended into violence. Far from a uniquely Chinese problem, however, the current chaos should be viewed as a bellwether for capitalist systems that fail to address inequality.
…  As the political scientist Francis Fukuyama has conceded, centralized, authoritarian systems can deliver economic outcomes that are superior to decentralized, inefficient democratic regimes. It is also worth pointing out that officials like [Hong Kong legislator Fernando] Cheung are free to criticize China’s government on the international stage. Those who think that China’s government will resort to a military-led forget Sun Tzu’s dictum that winning wars without fighting is the “acme of skill.” China’s government is well aware that if Hong Kong becomes a political or ideological battleground, peace and prosperity will suffer in both the city and on the mainland. Given this, it is willing to go to great lengths to uphold the “one country, two systems” arrangement that forms the basis of its sovereignty over Hong Kong.What China’s government is not willing to do is consider independence for the city. Like a parent dealing with a frustrated teenager, China views the current upheaval as a family matter that must be resolved internally.

25 August
Hong Kong protests: dozens arrested as government warns of ‘very dangerous situation’
Twelve-year-old among those detained after violent clashes that involved the police using water cannon and firing a warning shot
(The Guardian) Dozens of people, including a 12-year-old, have been arrested after a night of escalating violence in Hong Kong that saw police fire a warning shot near protesters and use water cannon for the first time.
Police said they arrested 29 men and seven women, aged 12 to 48, for offences including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons and assaulting police officers.
Sunday’s protests saw some of the fiercest clashes yet between police and demonstrators since violence escalated in mid-June over a now-suspended extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong people to be sent to mainland China for trial.
Police fired water cannon and volleys of tear gas in running battles with brick-throwing protesters. Six officers drew their pistols and one officer fired a warning shot into the air, police said in a statement.
Early on Monday morning, the Hong Kong government said it “severely condemns” the protesters. “The escalating illegal and violent acts of radical protesters are not only outrageous, they also push Hong Kong to the verge of a very dangerous situation.” It said police will “strictly follow up” on those acts.
“Police will take relentless enforcement action to bring the persons involved to justice,” it said.

21 August
China’s three-pronged strategy to choke Hong Kong’s protests
China has deployed a three-pronged strategy to suffocate pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong – propaganda, economic leverage and intimidation
(AFP) As protests erupted in June, discussion inside authoritarian China was muted, censored on social media or played down on state outlets.
But as chaos unfurled across Hong Kong, Beijing changed tack seeking to shape the narrative in its favour.
After a tense airport siege, which saw protesters assault two Chinese nationals accused of being “spies,” Beijing ramped up the rhetoric saying protesters were guilty of “terrorist-like actions.”
Inside China’s “Great Firewall”, where Facebook and Twitter are banned and information controlled, Hong Kong’s protests are now being portrayed as a largely violent, foreign-funded plot to destabilise the motherland.
But recasting the protesters as a rabble rather than a movement with legitimate concerns over China’s influence over Hong Kong, is not just for domestic consumption.

19 August
As champions of liberty and democracy, G7 leaders must speak out on Hong Kong
Colin Robertson
(Globe and Mail)  The Hong Kong demonstrations are a reminder that the desire for freedom is the elementary force driving all liberties. Those who should be liberty’s champions – the G7 democracies – are meeting this weekend in Biarritz. They need to speak out on Hong Kong and keep watch on what is happening.
The joint statement on Hong Kong by the Canadian and European Union foreign ministers calling for restraint, engagement and preservation of fundamental freedoms is a start. As a next step, why not create an eminent persons’ group to keep tabs on Hong Kong and make regular, public reports to G7 leaders?
Their terms of reference would be to monitor adherence to the two international covenants that transferred Hong Kong to China in 1997. The Sino-British Joint Declaration, agreed in 1984 by Deng Xiaoping guaranteed Hong Kong’s autonomy – “one country, two systems”– and basic liberties for 50 years. The Basic Law of 1990 defined the nuts and bolts of those liberties, including the rule of law, an independent judiciary and a free press.

18 August
Hong Kong: 1.7m people defy police to march in pouring rain
An estimated quarter of the population fill downtown park and surrounding streets
Huge crowds filled Victoria Park on Sunday afternoon and spilled on to nearby streets, forcing police to block traffic in the area. Torrential rain came down an hour into the rally, turning the park into a sea of umbrellas. At the same time, protesters walked towards Central, the heart of Hong Kong’s business district, and surrounded government headquarters.
Hong Kong’s dilemma: fight or resist peacefully

14 August
Sebastian Veg: Beijing’s game plan for crushing the Hong Kong protests is now clear
Manipulation of public opinion and pressure on the region’s businesses, universities and judiciary are part of the strategy
(The Guardian) Beijing has engaged in a battle to turn public opinion in Hong Kong against the movement and to isolate the “violent extremists” from the “patriotic silent majority”, especially by highlighting the economic impact of protests. Depictions of the protests as instigated by “foreign forces” were stepped up.
Beijing continues to rely on a “strategy of attrition” – one that served them well during the 2014 unrest. But at the same time, China continues to hint at the possibility of a military crackdown, releasing videos showing troop carriers moving to the border.
The Chinese government position is no doubt driven by fear of contagion to the mainland and geopolitical anxiety about Hong Kong’s loyalty. This must be balanced against the need to maintain Hong Kong’s perceived stability and prosperity, and to safeguard China’s influence in Taiwan.

13 August
Reuters: A state of “panic and chaos” exists in Hong Kong, the city’s embattled leader said, defying calls to quit as the stock market tumbled, airlines flagged further flight disruptions and anti-government protesters filled the airport. Flight check-in services have been suspended at Hong Kong’s international airport, the airport authority said, citing disruptions caused by anti-government protests.
Hong Kong’s last British governor Chris Patten cautioned that if China intervened in Hong Kong it would be a catastrophe and that Chinese President Xi Jinping should see the wisdom of trying to bring people together. Patten said it was counter productive of the Chinese to warn of “other methods” if the protests did not stop. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell warned China that any violent crackdown on protests would be “completely unacceptable,” while Trump administration officials urged all sides to refrain from violence.
Hong Kong airport: flight chaos as Carrie Lam warns of ‘path of no return’
Hundreds of flights cancelled ahead of further protests as territory’s leader says violence is pushing city into danger
(The Guardian) Thousands of passengers remained stranded on Tuesday after one of the world’s busiest airports shut down in a dramatic response to Monday’s mass demonstrations.
Hong Kong’s protesters have shown courage, creativity and thoughtfulness. Will the city still have a place for them when this is over?
by Peter Kammerer
It’s one thing to disagree with the protesters, but simply listening to them shows they are not mere thugs and rioters
Moreover, they may have done Hong Kong a service by exposing the ineptitude of our government and police
(SCMP) Beijing and its backers call the young Hong Kong protesters clashing with police separatists, independence-seekers and radicals. They are without doubt lawbreakers and there is certainly a small number seeking self-determination. But the majority also happen to be well-educated, intelligent, energetic, enthusiastic, courageous, creative, thoughtful and all manner of other qualities, which seem in short supply among those in charge in our city.

6 August
Hong Kong’s peace prospects recede amid teargas and smoke
As protests intensify it is hard to see how deadlock can end without death or serious injury
Over the last few weeks, protesters in Hong Kong have taken to spraypainting traffic barriers, bridges, police stations and more with the words: “If we burn, you burn with us.”
On Monday, much of the city burned under clouds of teargas, hails of rubber bullets, and fires lit by angry protesters facing off against riot police. Protesters and a group of men brawled on the street, hitting each other with wooden rods and traffic cones. In another neighbourhood, two people were knifed. Three cars rammed through crowds of protesters, injuring one person.
After nine weeks of protests, demonstrators and the local government, backed by Beijing, find themselves in a stalemate where the possibility of a peaceful resolution has become more and more unlikely.

2 August
As Hong Kong fights for its life, an embarrassed China has only violence to offer
The protests in Hong Kong represent an embarrassment for China, whose usual tools of crushing dissent have fallen short, Evan Fowler, an associate fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and life-long Hong Konger told Business Insider.
Protests in Hong Kong that started over the narrow issue of a bill that would allow the communist party to extradite its citizens to the mainland have now fanned out into a wider reckoning on the very foundation of the city’s governance.
“China’s in a position where its usual ways of dealing with unrest have failed” in what Fowler called a “massive loss of face” for the party.

1 August
Gwynne Dyer: At this point the Hong Kong confrontation is purely symbolic
Protesters are trying to make a point: that interfering with Hong Kong’s freedoms is more trouble than it’s worth.
The demonstrators in Hong Kong have carried on because they are trying to make a point: that interfering with Hong Kong’s freedoms is more trouble than it’s worth. So long as Hong Kong remains economically important to the People’s Republic, they have a chance of succeeding, but they can never expect a decisive victory.
Seven and a half million people in Hong Kong are never going to force the Beijing regime to do anything. With the right tactics, however, they can probably preserve their own freedoms, and continue to serve as living proof that an ethnic Chinese society does not have to be a tyranny.
It’s a balancing act. They must never challenge the Communist regime’s ultimate control, but from time to time they have to demonstrate to Beijing that tolerating a local aberration like civil rights in Hong Kong is less costly politically than ending it by force.
They have done enough to achieve that for now, and it’s probably time to stop.

31 July
Playing for time: China, Hong Kong and its deepening protests
China seems to indicate further reliance on police – not military – force to contain Hong Kong protesters.
(Al Jazeera) As Hong Kong plunges deeper into its worst political crisis since the territory was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, a rare press briefing from the government in Beijing has provided an insight into how it might respond to the mass protests that have rocked the city since June.
China’s top office for handling Hong Kong affairs resolutely condemned the protesters, restated its support for embattled leader Carrie Lam, opposed the violence, supported the police, and affirmed the importance of “One Country, Two Systems,” the governance framework that affords Hong Kong rights and freedoms unseen on the mainland.
China called the return of law and order its “most pressing priority”.

30 July
On Hong Kong, the US must find its voice
(Brookings) The United States has direct interests in Hong Kong. Over 85,000 American citizens live there, and nearly 1,400 American businesses operate there. The U.S. trade surplus in Hong Kong in 2017 was $32.6 billion. In other words, U.S. economic interests in Hong Kong are significant.
Given these direct interests, the U.S. has a strong incentive to support efforts to preserve Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and its model of a vibrant, open, rule-of-law society that is a part of China. The use of violence by any side in the ongoing confrontation undermines American interests. It would run counter to American interests for Beijing to weaken Hong Kong, including by narrowing its autonomy, e.g., by eroding legal, judicial, media, assembly, or speech freedoms. By the same token, the peaceful exercise of political freedoms by protesters provides a stronger likelihood of long-term stability than actions that precipitate the imposition of tighter political controls.

26 July
Hong Kong’s not dead – yet. But Carrie Lam and her cabinet must act
If Hong Kong is to survive this ordeal, the protesters must avoid provocative acts that make crackdowns more likely
The SAR government is most responsible for the escalation, though, through its misguided bill and recent inaction

By Cliff Buddle, SCMP columnist
The death of Hong Kong has been forecast many times, but the people of this vibrant and spirited city have always proved the doubters wrong. In recent weeks, however, even the most optimistic have started to fear Hong Kong is in terminal decline. So many qualities which make the city special have been undermined.
Protests are daily occurrences. Violent clashes with police have become the norm. The legislature has been ransacked, police headquarters pelted with eggs and Beijing’s liaison office daubed with graffiti. Most disturbing of all was the brutal, organised attack by stick-wielding assailants on protesters and passengers at Yuen Long MTR station last weekend, leaving 45 injured. This is not the Hong Kong we know.
The impact of these events, which began with peaceful mass protests against the government’s misconceived plans for an extradition bill last month, has been dramatic. Hong Kong’s long-held reputation for the maintenance of law and order has been shattered. Its status as one of the world’s safest cities has, at least temporarily, been lost. Tolerance is in short supply as the divisions in society deepen.
Meanwhile, the government, traditionally viewed as efficient and pragmatic, appears to have no answers. It is fiddling while Rome burns.
Hong Kong protesters occupy airport amid fears of escalating violence
(WaPo) The action, organized by aviation workers such as flight attendants and airport staff, marked the latest and most international phase in a campaign by Hong Kongers to safeguard the semiautonomous city’s relative freedom and rule of law from what they see as the Chinese government’s steady erosion of their rights. Unlike in previous protests, the demonstrators at the airport wrote signs and fliers primarily in English, and alternated between Cantonese and English chants.

23 July
Hong Kong protesters pledge to stand up to thugs after attack
Anger growing against police and authorities after masked men left 45 people in hospital

21 July
As it happened: Hong Kong police fire rounds of tear gas in heart of city, while violence breaks out in Yuen Long
Crowds use barricades to block thoroughfares and some earlier threw eggs at Beijing’s liaison office
In Yuen Long, away from the city centre, passengers on the MTR are attacked by a group of men

The Normalization of Radicalism in Hong Kong
What was once extreme here, both in action and in discourse, is becoming the norm.
(The Atlantic) During a recent meeting in her party’s headquarters, the Hong Kong cabinet member Regina Ip admitted that weeks of demonstrations here have put the government on the back foot.
“I never expected mass protests to continue for such a long time,” the pro-Beijing stalwart and legislator told me. “Sophisticated” protesters, she added, had “outmaneuvered the government” and were now seizing on a growing list of grievances, wielding them as “a rod to beat the government.”
As huge numbers of people have called for their city’s autonomy to be maintained and expanded in the face of steady encroachment by the mainland-Chinese government, lines are being crossed: Protesters have grown bolder and more extreme, even breaking into the city’s most prominent government building, and the authorities more draconian in their response.

10 July
From Iron Lady to lame duck: Hong Kong leader’s departure seen as mere matter of time
(Reuters) – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s apologies and explanations for a doomed extradition bill have failed to quell political tension and her departure is now seen by many in the Chinese-ruled city as merely a matter of time in a drawn-out, long goodbye.
Under the handover deal with Britain, Hong Kong was allowed to retain extensive freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland under a “one country, two systems” formula, including its independent judiciary and right to protest.
Beijing might want Lam to at least repair some of the damage caused by the extradition bill fiasco before leaving to help any successor, but would almost certainly want her gone before Legislative Council elections in September next year, [political scientist and commentator Sonny] Lo said.
Already Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing camp is showing signs of splits amid the fallout of Lam’s championing of the extradition bill, which sparked a broad range of criticism from within establishment circles.

4 July
The Peacemaker at the Center of Hong Kong’s Turbulent Protests
(NYT) There are no official leaders in Hong Kong’s protests against an unpopular extradition bill that has brought to the surface deep-seated anxieties about Beijing’s grip over the territory. But [Roy] Kwong, a longtime advocate who is also a romance novelist, has emerged as a leading voice for moderation and a hero for the city’s youth, who have nicknamed him “God Kwong.”
After the attack on the legislature, he is now a key figure in the effort to hold together one of Hong Kong’s most potent political movements in recent years.
On one hand, Mr. Kwong is seeking to reassure a core group of young protesters — whose vandalism of the legislature highlighted their disillusionment with politicians as a whole — that he is on their side. On the other, he is trying to persuade the broader public that the demands and tactics of the protesters, even at their most extreme, are legitimate.

2 July
How to understand the symbolic occupation—and destruction—of Hong Kong’s legislature
(Quartz) They destroyed the glass facade of the building. They tore up the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini constitution that sets it apart from mainland China’s legal system. They spray-painted over the city’s insignia, a bauhinia flower, but only the part that read “People’s Republic of China.” They put up the British colonial flag. They defaced the portraits of several former presidents of the legislature. And they scrawled a message for Carrie Lam, the city’s top official, on a pillar: “It was you who told me peaceful marches do not work.”
Trashed Hong Kong legislature out of action for two weeks because of damage caused by protesters, says council president Andrew Leung
Meetings cancelled at Legislative Council after raid brings down security system, power supply and fire alarms
Council president says ‘many things are lost’ after declining to confirm whether computers were stolen by protesters
What the Hong Kong Protests Are Really About
Chinese people in Hong Kong live better than any in Chinese history. This gives moral force to our way of life.
By Jimmy Lai, founder and majority owner of Next Media, which publishes the Apple Daily newspaper and Next Magazine in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
(NYT) The inconvenient truth is that Chinese people in Hong Kong (and in Taiwan) live better than any Chinese in Chinese history. This gives moral force to our way of life. It also shows the extraordinary things Chinese people can accomplish when given the freedom to do so.
Hong Kong’s moral force has also been economically good for China, since the moral force of our free society cannot be separated from its prosperity. It is not likely that Beijing agreed to have the government of Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, suspend consideration of the extradition bill just because a lot of people marched against it. No doubt President Xi learned much about capital flight and jittery investors during those protests and saw how badly China still needs a prosperous and functioning Hong Kong.

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