KT edit: Hong Kong crisis is hurting business and democracy

It would reduce the judiciary in Hong Kong to a rubber stamp.

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Published: Wed 12 Jun 2019, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 12 Jun 2019, 11:05 PM

In 1997, when Britain handed over Hong Kong to China at the end of a 99-year lease, it was agreed that the territory would retain its economic and administrative system. The region, though a part of mainland China, is governed by a Basic Law, or a mini-constitution. It uses a different currency (HK Dollar) and enjoys limited democracy that has allowed it to prosper and retain its edge as a leading commercial and business hub in Asia. The principle of 'one country, two systems' will expire in 2047, but Beijing is slowly seeking to dilute the special status ahead of schedule and tighten its grip on the region. The latest Fugitive Bill is a step in that direction and strikes at the heart of the 'one country, two systems' arrangement. The bill allows Chinese authorities to arrest any Hong Kong resident charged with a crime and conduct a trial in mainland China. Hong Kong has extradition treaties with only a handful of countries, and that doesn't include China. However, if the law is passed, the territory would be forced to comply and send suspects to China like other nations who have an extradition treaty with Beijing. It would reduce the judiciary in Hong Kong to a rubber stamp.
A majority of Hongkongers feel that such a law could be abused for political and commercial reasons, and make the place less attractive to foreign investors who have faith in the independence of the judiciary. Their fears could be right. Since 2012, the Chinese government under President Xi Jinping has been extending its authoritarian reach to special territories. In 2014, China introduced changes in the electoral process in Hong Kong, a move to pack Communist party loyalists in the city council. Consequently, in 2017, Carrie Lam, a China dove was installed as the new CEO of the region. The people of Hong Kong want their special rights to be protected and the intensity of demonstrations this time could pale in comparison to the Umbrella Revolution that made headlines across the world five years ago. On Sunday, over a million people hit the streets to protest against Beijing. The numbers are swelling, but Chinese authorities don't appear to be willing to listen as they enforce their writ on the territory. No one is sure how the standoff will end, but we hope it will be peaceful for the sake of democracy.

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