Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Why More Than A Million Hong Kong Residents Are Demonstrating Against A Proposed Law That Would Allow Hong Kong Government Officials To Extradite Them To China For Prosecution.

On June 12, 2019, over a million Hong Kong residents took to the streets to protest a proposed law that would permit the Hong Kong Government to extradite residents, tourists, and foreign businessmen to China for prosecution (which could mean confiscation of wealth, torture, forced confessions, imprisonment, or worse), if mainland officials charge them with breaking a mainland law.  Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, after meeting with mainland officials across the border in Shenzhen on June 14, 2019, announced the next day an indefinite suspension of moving forward with passage of the law.  Opponents of the extradition measure continued demonstrating on June 16-17, demanding that the Hong Kong Government withdraw, not just suspend, the proposed law  (a Google search on Hong Kong provides hundreds of articles, essays and videos explaining why Hong Kong residents fear extradition to China).

Let’s be clear.  This was not a demonstration in support of democracy as was the Umbrella Revolution of 2014, although Hong Kong people would like to have democracy.  Rather, it was a demonstration in support of Hong Kong’s British colonial heritage--the rule of law, an independent judiciary, civil liberties, and free markets--as against China’s Communist Party directed judicial system.  Some demonstrators even waved the British flag and held portraits of Queen Elizabeth II.

I have written two books on Hong Kong’s history as a British colony, Value For Money:  The Hong Kong Budgetary Process (1976) and Hong Kong: A Study in Economic Freedom (1979), and co-authored two books on Hong Kong’s future, Forecasting Political Events: The Future of Hong Kong (1985) and Red Flag Over Hong Kong (1996).  The latter two predicted what would happen to the economic and political liberties enjoyed by Hong Kong people after the transfer of sovereignty from Britain to China on June 30, 1997.  All four books are available for free download at my website, alvinrabushka.com.  They help explain why Hong Kong people have been engaging in the greatest mass demonstrations in the territory’s history.

Under Deng Xiaoping’s “One Country, Two Systems” formula, Hong Kong people were promised a high degree of autonomy, that they could keep their social, economic, and political systems free from mainland control for 50 years until June 30, 2047.  China’s National People’s Congress enacted a mini-constitution, the Basic Law, for Hong Kong, which on paper guaranteed Deng’s promise.  But Deng is long since gone and Xi Jinping is no Deng Xiaoping.  China has already reneged on some of its promises to Hong Kong people.  But the proposed extradition law is by far the most dangerous encroachment, putting every resident at risk of the midnight knock on the door.  Its passage would mean the end of the most basic liberty of all, the right to life, 28 years before 2047.

We’ll see if the demonstrations can continue long enough to force the withdrawal of the proposed law.  June in Hong Kong is beastly hot and humid and people still have to earn a living.  But as Mao Zedong wrote, “ASingle Spark Can Start A Prairie Fire.”