The “promise” was that China would treat Hong Kong as a separate territory by letting her have her own system of government. One country, two systems. That was the idea. But in reality, Beijing continues to infiltrate and manipulate the Cantonese in order to gain absolute control over Hong Kong. One example of economic manipulation is China’s flooding of Hong Kong with Chinese immigrants.
The latest in these manipulations is a push for the so-called extradition bill. It essentially says that anybody suspected of criminal activity can be extradited out of Hong Kong and tried in China instead. What people don’t understand is that in communist China, there is no rule of law. Innocent people are convicted and imprisoned. Pastors and their families, for example, are detained and often disappear.
This means anybody in Hong Kong that China wants to get rid of––any human rights activist, democracy advocate, pastor, or free-speech media––is in danger. China can just say, “we suspect you of something,” and take the person out of Hong Kong. Once that person is in China, he or she might never be seen again.
The people in Hong Kong know this is what would happen. Of course, the propaganda is, “you don’t need to be afraid unless you’re a criminal,” but the truth is that lots of supposed criminals in China are people like pastors and intellectuals, people who are pro human-rights. Are these people criminals?
On June 12th, the people of Hong Kong decided that enough was enough. This extradition bill was being pushed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam (who, by the way, was appointed by the Chinese government, not elected by the people). According to media reports, tens of thousands of people gathered on the streets of Hong Kong to peacefully protest the bill. Over the course of the next few days, more and more people joined the demonstration, bringing the number of protestors from tens of thousands to over a million. In response, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse the crowd, which the police misleadingly labeled a “riot.” The protesters, the majority of whom were the younger generation of Hong Kong, vowed to never back down. Lam responded by calling the protestors “unruly children,” but eventually indefinitely postponed the bill.
This “indefinite postponement” means next to nothing, however, so on Sunday, June 16th, nearly two million people poured out onto the streets of Hong Kong to demand that the extradition bill be revoked and Chief Executive Lam resign.
Here are some aerial photos from that day.
What now? Well, although Lam released a public response to the protests, she never officially apologized and still refuses to step down or withdraw the bill. The people of Hong Kong have vowed to continue rallies until the bill is fully revoked. The future of Hong Kong is still uncertain.
Why did I choose to write about this event in a blog devoted to Taiwan democracy? Because Hong Kong’s story serves as a warning to Taiwan. Whatever schemes China uses to silence the people of Hong Kong today, she will attempt to use to squash the Taiwanese people tomorrow. As many Taiwanese people say, 今日香港，明日台灣. “Hong Kong today, Taiwan tomorrow.”
The survival of the Taiwanese, and the survival of Hong Kong and many other peoples, relies not only on the Taiwanese and Hong Kong people’s continual, vigilant fight for their sovereignty, but also on foreign nations being willing to stand up to the bully that is China. You, reader, must stand up to China. You must not give into and spread the propaganda and lies that the communist Chinese government puts out, all the while ignoring the voice of millions of oppressed people.
As the people in Hong Kong say, “We are not China.” And we hope they will never be.
In the above photo, taken during the 2014 Sunflower Movement, the sign reads: "I am from Hong Kong. Taiwan, please stand on Hong Kong's corpse and consider the path you will take."