Sunday, March 28, 2021

Richard Cullen on Hong Kong's New Political Realities After 2019 Watershed Year (China Daily)

China Daily
Published on 10 March 2021
Intense disputation within the LegCo in May 2019, which involved open physical intimidation by Opposition members, played a significant role in laying the foundations, through the example, for the coming mass public protests — and violent civil upheaval — initially directed against the HKSAR Government’s proposed new Extradition Bill.
     This was, in fact, a needed bill justified by imperatives. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) of the leading G7 group of countries had urged Hong Kong, in 2008, to reform its visibly inadequate extradition regime. According to Reuters, the FATF confirmed, in September 2019, that the lack of expected extradition provisions was an obstacle to tackling money laundering and terrorism. By then, however, the SAR government had withdrawn the bill following very large protest marches in June. The purpose of the bill had spuriously but very effectively been recast by the Opposition, with extensive media support, as a mass threat to personal freedoms in the HKSAR.
     It was in June 2019 that Hong Kong’s multi-month insurgency began, spinning off from the mass marches, to become an exceedingly violent anti-government, anti-China movement. It is now clear that it was robustly financed (from offshore and onshore), thoroughly planned and highly organized.
     The audacious physical aggression within LegCo in May had not stopped consideration of the Extradition Bill. The fierce protest-riot on June 12 ultimately did so, however, by shutting down the operation of LegCo completely. A fateful blow to Hong Kong’s basic constitutional order was struck. Now an enduring insurrection was underway, one which would include a perverse attempt to fire-bomb us all onto the road of everlasting democratic bliss.
      That the need for this radical restructuring (both the Election Committee and LegCo) is deeply felt in Beijing is scarcely surprising. These reforms are not, however, rash or reckless. They also convincingly signal enduring support for the distinctive role of the HKSAR within China... Click here to read the full text. 

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