This weekend, roughly one million people protested against a proposed bill together in the legislative heart of Hong Kong. The bill, known as the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Legislation Bill 2019 bill, would have laid out a legal framework for extraditing people living in Hong Kong to China.
The bill’s wording provides a handful of safeguards that protect the Hong Kong government and the country’s residency, one of which gives Hong Kong the ultimate power on whether to honor extradition requests to other countries or not, even if China already approved them.
It’s important to understand that Hong Kong used to belong to the United Kingdom, though its control was handed over to the People’s Republic of China 22 years ago, in 1997.
Although China technically has legal jurisdiction over Hong Kong, the latter acts largely independently of the former. When China took Hong Kong back over, it agreed to let Hong Kong act freely of the administrative rule of China until 2047, a 50-year agreement that is still in effect today.
People who support the Fugitive Offenders bill generally believe that the potential of Hong Kong’s societal waters to become muddied by people who are evading extradition back to mainland China is a pressing issue currently facing Hong Kong. However, those against the proposed legislation either do not feel that the possibility of harboring a disproportionate amount of Chinese citizens who are currently running from legal prosecution in the country is an issue or, secondly, that the freedoms of Hong Kong and its people should not be infringed upon.
The bill was first drafted and proposed after someone who killed another person – his girlfriend, as a matter of fact – in the nearby nation of Taiwan could not legally be brought to another country to be tried as a criminal for the charges due to Hong Kong’s anti-extradition policies.
People who could be extradited by the Hong Kong government would be transferred only under a list of modern human rights liberties that match many of those set out by the United Nations.
The Human Rights Watch has spoken out against the bill, as the organization has done with a number of other legislative issues at the highest level of government in the People’s Republic of China, one of which is the country’s social credit score system, which is the first of its kind in society.