Protests continue in Hong Kong as focus shifts to demands for a more democratic and autonomous system.The initial causes of the protests erupted in June over a controversial Extradition Law that would have seen suspected criminals transferred to mainland China for trial. This caused various human rights concerns from both protestors and the various members of the international community, who point towards Beijing overstepping the ‘one country, two systems’ agreement.Under this system, citizens of Hong Kong are able to enjoy relative autonomy from mainland China. Benefits of this notably include freedom of assembly and free speech.
Under the Extradition Law, citizens of Hong Kong enjoying these freedoms could be extradited to mainland China at the request of Beijing, and though being innocent of any wrongdoing in Hong Kong, would be held as criminals against China’s own laws.The law was eventually scrapped but is reflective of a much deeper issue.There are allegations that suggest that China is already involved in illegal extraditions of citizens so that they can be prosecuted in China.
The Causeway Bay Booksellers case in 2015 saw five prominent booksellers disappear. Some had allegedly crossed the border to China and were detained there. However, others were last seen in Hong Kong, later appearing as detainees on the Chinese mainland without having taken the legal documents with them that would have been necessary for them to cross the border legally – and of their own free will.With China’s growing influence, many citizens of Hong Kong are becoming worried about the grip that Beijing has on Hong Kong leaders.
The response of the Hong Kong government has so far been to deploy police and tear gas, citing security concerns over violence and damage to property. There have also been claims made of police brutality against peaceful protestors. However, the police have adamantly defended their position, stating ‘If they don’t use violence, we don’t use force’.Chinese officials have made coordinated efforts to condemn the protests through every media channel at their disposal.
They have additionally accused the West as having plotted the protests, as well as publishing accusations of individual journalists and foreign citizens as being foreign agents. So far, the general response to these comments by the international community has been critical.The protests are likely to continue.