Date
21 October 2019
Demonstrators march in a June 9 rally against the now-suspended extradition bill. Hong Kong’s protests have mostly been peaceful, but some stray violent incidents threaten to undermine the movement. Photo: Bloomberg
Demonstrators march in a June 9 rally against the now-suspended extradition bill. Hong Kong’s protests have mostly been peaceful, but some stray violent incidents threaten to undermine the movement. Photo: Bloomberg

Some thoughts on the anti-extradition bill movement

The recent events in the wake of the extradition bill controversy have shown that the political system in Hong Kong has broken down.

Unfortunately, it isn’t up to the people of Hong Kong to decide whether and how the political system should be revamped. Rather, it is the Beijing bosses who have the final word on the fundamental issue.

The problem is, the mainland is virtually an autocratic regime that has little patience in relation to human rights and real rule of law.

After Xi Jinping took the reins of China in 2012, he has consolidated his power and sought to tighten the grip on Hong Kong.

Against this backdrop, it wouldn’t be an easy task for anyone to persuade Beijing to allow Hong Kong to reactivate constitutional reform.

Besides, China is now reigning supreme economically on the global scene, a trend that is anticipated to continue for the next 20 years or so.

As such, I believe it would be a highly risky approach to try to force Beijing into making concessions by escalating the resistance movement in Hong Kong.

Instead, in my opinion, a better approach would be to let the Beijing leaders know that the people of Hong Kong are both restrained and mature, and that the central government has nothing to fear even if the city is allowed full democracy.

The millions-strong protest marches in Hong Kong last month have showcased the civic-mindedness of the people as the demonstrations were orderly and without incident.

But the violent clashes the city witnessed later, particularly the rampage of the Legislative Council complex on July 1, have ruined the good, peaceful and rational image of the Hong Kong people.

What Hong Kong needs most at this point is not more clashes, but calm and rational thinking and friendly dialogue.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 17

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/RC

Dr. Stephen Chiu Yiu-wah is an associate professor of the Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Hong Kong.