Hong Kong Extradition Bill Delayed Amidst Protests By Phillip Howard
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s rare apology for her handling of an extradition bill has not appeased protesters. A government spokesperson stated that Lam’s handling of the legislation had caused “substantial controversies and disputes in society, causing disappointment and grief.” Lam later suspended the bill, but has not withdrawn it as requested by protesters.
The proposed bill would allow the extradition of fugitives not only to mainland China, but to any jurisdiction in the world that Hong Kong has no formal agreement with. Currently, Hong Kong has extradition agreements with over 20 countries, including the United States.
The suspension came a week after Lam said she would not back down, stating that they were still proceeding with the bill “out of our clear conscience, and our commitment to Hong Kong.”
The decision was well-received in the international community. For instance, the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong welcomed the decision. Still, protests have continued throughout Hong Kong, as police continue to clash with protesters.
Beijing has been trying to exert more control over Hong Kong after the U.K. relinquished their control over the territory in 1997.
A 2014 protest, dubbed the “Umbrella Revolution,” emerged following proposed legislation enabling Beijing to vet all candidates vying for Hong Kong’s top executive post. Many demonstrators were convicted for unlawful assembly. The protests eventually stopped as authorities ignored their demands.
Cheung Chor-yung, a Political Scientist at City University, stated that what has recently transpired illustrates how Lam “missed the best time to contain the damage. Now, whatever she does she cannot save much face or Beijing’s face.”
Protests continue this week after protesters rejected Lam’s apology. Their list of demands have grown beyond withdrawing the bill, adding an impartial investigation into police use of force in clashing with protesters and rescinding the official description of the event as an illegal riot exposing participants to long jail terms.
Phillip Howard is a graduate student at Utica College