China digs its claws through the flesh of Hong Kong

The countdown has now begun. In 28 years, the 1984 agreement between London and Beijing with officially ended, resulting in the official surrender of Hong Kong to China. Thanks to the concept of “one country, two systems” Hong Kong, a former British territory, has enjoyed a special, semi-autonomous status with certain unique freedoms while still being a part of the Chinese territory. This arrangement, which has benefitted Hong Kong for the last 35 years, will end in 2047.

In reality, Beijing never stopped trying to get back “the one that got away”, ignoring its previous agreements. The march against the “anti-subversion” law in 2003, and the famous “Umbrella Movement” in the autumn of 2014 are two examples of the significant challenges for China in bringing this state back into the fold. This year, more than a million Hong Kongers took to the streets once again on Sunday, June 9th to protest against a new bill that would authorise the judicial extradition of Hong Kongers to mainland China. China responded to these protests the same way they always do, through government crackdowns and repression of the residents of this ‘autonomous’ territory.

Despite this pressure, the movement has not weakened. The government has postponed the vote for this bill until the 20th of June. It is an unusual withdrawal, which could prove to be a tactical decision. Opposition to this bill has been extensive but is not shared by everyone. On the 12th of June, a few days after the protest, the police chief, Stephen Lo called the protesters “gangsters”.

At the end of the day, this extradition law is a continuation of Chinese policy towards Hong Kong. It is a brutal, ideological and uncompromising policy, just like the party that wrote it. On the Monday following the protest, Carrie Lam, a local chief executive, re-emphasised her promise to ensure that human rights are safeguarded in future, with legally binding, extradition agreements. This misleading tactic had drawn attention from the primary issue of resistance to extradition by offering up hollow promises which don’t engage in anything, especially since these guarantees are not even included in the amendment itself.

Yet again, the Chinese regime has pushed its pawns in insidious and vicious ways. The Hong Kong Parliament (LegCo) can no longer be considered democratic. It has 70 members that are appointed by a convoluted system that almost guarantees the pro-Beijing bloc majority power, and for which Carrie Lam, the Prime Minister, is no more than a megaphone. One cannot forget the buffoonery that followed the pro-democracy protests in 2014, which disqualified Democrat candidates, eliminated opposition MPs from parliament, and much more.

It is likely that the extradition bill will be adopted when the university holidays come, despite the courage shown by demonstrators who have braved the blows of baton and clouds of tear gas. Even the Catholic Church has called on the government to abandon its plans, which will surely destabilise the chief executive who calls herself a devout Catholic. With 43 seats already won, China already holds all the keys to impose its vision. By doing so, Xi Jinping has left no room for doubt. In 2017, at the time of Carrie Lam’s induction, the “Great Helmsman” was very clear, recalling in his address that “any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government and the authority of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line and is absolutely impermissible.”

On the ground, everything is being done to anticipate the inescapable arrival of 2047. A massive endeavour, involving the indoctrination of spirit, is under way. It is thought that these efforts will make the handover less painful for the Hong Kong people as they will already have been living with China’s totalitarian model. The final step that will need to be taken is the removal of the visa system for Chinese citizens wishing to visit ‘the pearl of the East’, truly bringing the two “systems” into one. Hong Kong, in the spirit of the Chinese Communist Party, will undoubtedly serve as a model for Taiwan, and other Asian countries that have already been subjugated like Pakistan, Cambodia, Laos or Malaysia. But who will be next? Will China turn its sights to promulgating their ideologies in European countries?

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