It breaks my heart that I can’t be in Hong Kong to support the people protesting against the extradition bill.
I generally reserve my blog space to give everyone a little bit of insight into who I am and what I do. Well, Hong Kong is a part of who I am. That’s something I believe many people from the 852 will understand. I spent 17 years growing up in that city, being shaped by it and by everything it had to offer, so now, even after living in a place as different as the countryside of Sweden for six years, the only place I can really call home is Hong Kong; the people I connect with the most are from Hong Kong. Now I’m watching them fight desperately to keep that place safe from the grasp of a tyrannical force.
If that sounds dramatic, it should. Whatever you imagine when you read that is what the two-million-strong protesters are marching against.
Let no one forget that China essentially kidnapped several booksellers from Hong Kong in 2016 for selling anti-China literature. Let no one forget that China is ruled by a government that essentially imprisons and brainwashes those they don’t agree with on the orders of President (and I use that term loosely) Xi Jinping, who is — for all intents and purposes — a dictator.
If passed, the extradition bill would allow criminals convicted of any one of 37 crimes to be extradited to China and Taiwan. Of course, it’s the former of those two that’s incensed the people of HK since Taiwan has openly rejected this bill. Keep in mind that rules surrounding legal proceedings in China are terrifyingly lax when it comes to those in authority.
China has been trying to chip away at the freedom we enjoy in Hong Kong since the handover in 1997 and outside of politics, they’ve used infrastructure, their military, and kidnapping to do it.
For the outsider, it might seem as though the only real barrier separating the two countries is the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984. Without that, it might seem as though Hong Kong has always belonged to China. That might have been true at some point in history, but in reality, the whole reason why there is conflict here is largely because Hong Kong is not China. We speak a different mix of languages, we have different cultures, and we clearly have different values — politically speaking, anyway.
Reportedly, almost two million demonstrators took to the streets to protest the extradition bill on the 16th of June and it’s encouraging to see so many partake. It’s easy to dismiss all of these protests as the actions of dreamers facing impossible odds. If I’m being realistic, that might be exactly what it is. Still, that doesn’t mean any of us should give in and just watch as our country is pulled into that authoritarian madhouse.
Even if Hong Kong hadn’t been my home for most of my life, even if I wasn’t also Taiwanese and didn’t already feel deep-seated animosity toward the Chinese government, I’d argue against the Extradition Bill for the simple reason that it would prove detrimental to the economy of the region, which is one of the reasons China is so interested in it anyway. In a nutshell, if China is allowed to exert that much more control over HK, businesses are likely to leave, and China loses out on trade with western markets.
The point of all this is that no good can come out of the Extradition Bill and what it represents, or standing idly by while China tries to dig its claws into that small tropical island.
They Legislative Council has delayed it for now, but that’s not enough. They have to scrap it completely.
Everyone out there is risking something or someone and doing that isn’t easy. I hope the protesters don’t give in and don’t get discouraged when they’re standing with their face inches from an agitated policeman’s riot shield. I hope things don’t escalate to the point where I have to worry about the well-being of the people. If it does, if it has to, then I do hope it’s all worth it in the end.