Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents have demonstrated against the government’s plans for a extradition law. Lawyers’ associations, human rights defenders and even foreign governments are concerned about the law. It would allow the authorities to extradite suspects to the People’s Republic of China at the request of Chinese authorities.
Critics argue that the justice system in China is not independent, does not conform to international standards, and is politically dissident.
Also, defendants are sentenced to 99 percent. There is concern that the law undermines Hong Kong’s position as an Asian economic and financial capital.
The protest on Sunday was unusually popular. First estimates were made by several hundred thousand participants.
It was the biggest protest since the Democracy Movement in 2014, when protesters calling for more democracy paralyzed parts of Hong Kong for weeks.
Participants in the current demonstration held signs saying “No delivery to China” or “Delivered to China, gone forever”.
The former British Crown Colony has been governed largely autonomously since its return to China in 1997 on the principle of “one country, two systems” as its own territory.
Seven million inhabitants of today’s Chinese Special Administrative Region enjoy greater political freedom than people in the People’s Republic, including the right to freedom of expression, freedom of the press and assembly. With the louder call for real democracy in Hong Kong, however, Beijing is tightening its ties.
Amnesty International warned that those extradited in China threatened “torture, ill-treatment and unfair trials”. Nor did the organization guarantee that the law would not apply to political persecution.
China’s authorities regularly make legitimate, apolitical charges “to persecute and imprison peaceful activists, human rights defenders, and those who reject government policies.” It is a “powerful tool” to intimidate critics.
With the proposed legislation, the Beijing-loyal government of Carrie Lam has maneuvered into a predicament, as the resistance in the population is large.
There is no confidence in China’s judicial system. To counter the criticism, changes have been made. So it’s only about serious crimes.
The expected sentence must be seven and not three years as originally planned. While some criminal offenses, such as tax or securities offenses, have been canceled, bribery and money laundering have remained.
Human rights groups also point out that the two UN conventions for civil rights and against torture Hong Kong was bound to actually prohibit the transfer of people to countries where torture and ill-treatment threatened.
The United States and Canada have also expressed concern. They fear that British or Canadian citizens may be affected in Hong Kong.
The US Congressional Bureau for Economic and Security’s Commission on Relations with China warned that the bill could “pose a serious threat to the national security of the United States and its economic interests in Hong Kong.”
It could “diminish Hong Kong’s reputation as a safe haven for US and international business and pose a greater risk to American citizens and port visits in the territory.”
Canada is particularly worried that it has recently experienced China setting two Canadians under espionage charges after Canada, at the request of the United States, has appointed the chief financial officer and daughter of telecom giant Huawei’s founder, Meng Wanzhou.
She is charged with bank fraud in violation of sanctions against Iran. The United States demands their extradition.
Hong Kong’s last British Governor, Chris Patten, warned that the extradition law would be “the worst” thing Hong Kong has suffered since returning to China in 1997.
In a video message, Patten spoke of a “terrible blow” to Hong Kong’s rule of law, stability, security and position as a major international trading hub.