September 19, 2019

Hong Kong Won the Battle. Not the War.

“Call it a victory for Hong Kong’s protesters. But the battle is far from over.

Hours after reportedly having met with a senior Chinese official, a stern-faced Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Beijing-friendly chief executive, announced that her government would temporarily suspend plans to push through a law that would allow suspected criminals to be extradited to mainland China.

Her speech capped a remarkable week here. Last weekend, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest the bill, one of the biggest demonstrations the city has ever seen. Indeed, the broad unpopularity of the proposed extradition law is difficult to overstate: It has united students, lawyers, pro-democracy legislators, corporate executives, and others against its passing.

In context, the law is the latest in a series of pushes to erode Hong Kong’s autonomy. Under the terms of its handover from the United Kingdom to China in 1997, the city was guaranteed a degree of independence, and maintains its own elections, currency, immigration rules, and legal system; the latter has been seen as under threat from the extradition law. But in the past 20 years, authorities in Beijing and pro-China legislators have also tried, with various degrees of success, to promote patriotic-education requirements and, among other things, a restrictive security law banning sedition.”

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