(Hong Kong—June 15, 2019) Today, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam indefinitely suspended a bill that would allow Hong Kong residents to be extradited to China for trial, a partial triumph for protesters who have been taking to the streets since the beginning of the week.
While Lam believes the bill necessary, many experts believe it would allow China easier access to dissidents to the Chinese Communist Party, who have enjoyed relative freedom and protection under Hong Kong’s laws. Before Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997, an agreement was made that the city would be allowed to retain its legislative, legal, and economic systems until 2047. This was enshrined in a mini-constitution put into place after Britain handed Hong Kong over to China known as the Basic Law. China, on the other hand, routinely imprisons, tortures, and sometimes even kills those who disagree with its policies.
Fearing the erosion of their rights, many of those living in Hong Kong took to the streets this week, possibly numbering over 1 million. On Wednesday, they blocked off the roads leading to the city’s Legislative Council, forcing the government to delay debates over whether or not to adopt the bill that were scheduled for that day. In response, Hong Kong authorities dispatched 5,000 police officers, who drove the protesters back by firing bean bag pellets, rubber bullets, and tear gas.
At a press conference held today, Lam announced that she was suspending the extradition bill indefinitely and lamented that she had not properly convinced the Hong Kong people of its necessity. She is not permanently retiring the bill, however. Rather, she stated that the lawmakers involved would listen to critiques and adapt the bill in order to improve it.
“I believe we cannot withdraw this bill, or else society would say that this bill was groundless,” she said at a press conference.
However, even though protesters succeeded in delaying the bill, many are looking for it to be scrapped completely, and organizers still plan to hold their largest protest yet tomorrow. ChinaAid joins them in strongly urging Lam and Hong Kong authorities to not implement the bill, as it could compromise the right of Hong Kong citizens to be tried in the Hong Kong legal system and jeopardize the safety of every Hong Kong resident who opposes Chinese rule, including the protesters.
ChinaAid exposes abuses in order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law. If you wish to partner with us in helping those persecuted by the Chinese government, please click the button below to make a charitable donation.