This past weekend, while Americans celebrated “Fathers’ Day,” hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of Hong Kong to protest new policies that will allow the city’s residents to be extradited from the former British colony to mainland China.
Demonstrators told Western press and news media that they’re protesting to “preserve the freedoms that were promised when Britain returned control over Hong Kong to China in 1997, something that’s been increasingly at risk given the increasingly dictatorial nature of China’s Communist Party,” reported the New York Times.
“Protesters poured into the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday with renewed determination and a lengthening list of demands, rejecting the government’s retreat on a contentious extradition bill and extending the political crisis gripping the semiautonomous territory,” America’s “paper of record,” wrote in today’s edition.
“Hong Kong’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam, shelved the bill on Saturday and followed that up with a rare apology the next day, actions that pro-democracy activists dismissed as too little, too late,” TheNYT continued.
How many people were necessary to force an apology from a de facto Communist-controlled government, despite “special economic zone” status? Organizers gave an unverified estimate of close to two million of the territory’s seven million people.
“She only did it under pressure,” said Leo Cheng, a 19-year-old student, said of Lam’s public apology.
When Britain withrew from Hong Kong in 1997, honoring a 100-year-old agreement with China, the transfer of sovereignty was only to move forward if certain prerequisite conditions were met.
One of these conditions contained the governing principle, dubbed “One Country, Two Systems” by comparative political science experts. That principle was to govern relations between Hong Kong and mainland China for the next 50 years.
Under the stipulations of Britain’s exit agreement, Hong Kong’s domestic affairs would contine to be governed by legacy systems it inherited from centuries of British rule, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and free elections.
But less than 20 years into the agreed-upon 50 years, China began undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy by “pre-screening” candidates in the 2014 elections.
The response from Hong Kong became known as the “Umbrella Movement,” and included nine days of protest against Beijing’s violation of the agreement, reports Christian Post. At least three of the founders of the “Umbrella Movement” were Christians, including the eventual and ascendant face of the movement, Joshua Wong.
In April, 2019, several Christians, including Joshua Wong, were arrested and imprisoned for taking part in pro-democracy protests.
The Christian component is so central to the movement, that even the secular Wall Street Journal reported in 2014 on “an undercurrent of another, much older tension: Between Christianity and Communist China.”
“Hong Kong churches have long tried to spread Christianity in China. Protestant pastors based in Hong Kong have helped propagate the evangelical brands of Christianity that have alarmed the Chinese leadership in Beijing with their fast growth,” TheWSJ reported then.
And now, much like in 2014, Bejing wants to drive the car further down the slippery slope (more like mud-slide), by permitting the political extradition of Hong Kong citizens to mainland China for prosecution.
As the New York Times explains, laws like those advocated by Lam are intended to “extend China’s reach into Hong Kong and strip its residents of the protection of the law.”
And the first protections to be stripped will likely be those of Hong Kong’s Christians, critics state.
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