–by Never Lau–The extradition bill is an agreement that allows Hong Kong to detain and transfer people wanted in countries and territories with “no formal extradition agreements” required (Ives). The Hong Kong government first proposed the extradition bill on 13 February 2019, which provoked political debates over the proposed measure (“Xianggang”). Although the content of the extradition bill itself is politically neutral and has been popularly adopted by different countries around the globe, the mistrust and fear of Hong Kong citizens toward the Chinese Communist Party have strengthened their resistance to it. The first protest, initiated by the Civil Human Rights Front, was held on March 31. According to the Hong Kong police, there were approximately 5200 participants. The protest started in the Wan Chai district and ended at the government headquarters (“Baoanju”).
At the beginning, it seemed that the extradition bill alone led to the following political protests and activities. On 4 Sep 2019, Carrie Lam, the chief executive of the Hong Kong government, announced the withdrawal of the extradition bill, hoping to relieve the crisis. However, things did not turn out the way she wanted. Both parties, the pro-establishment camp that supported the Chinese government and the pro-democracy camp that wanted more independence for Hong Kong, blamed Carrie for the withdrawal. The pro-establishment camp considered the withdrawal to mean kneeling down to violence, while the pro-democracy camp thought that the political activities brought out other potential problems and snowballed to a global issue.
In reality, the extradition bill was likely the short-term reason that sparked the protest. However, there were other deeper, long-term reasons, too, such as the decreasing upward mobility, failure to obtain a highly democratic political environment and conflicts between police and activists in the previous protests. Take, for example, the failure to demonstrate political autonomy. Citizens have longed for “dual universal suffrage,” which is achieved when “both the candidates and the final chief executive are decided by Hong Kong citizens” aged eighteen or above (Yunsheng). However, the Communist Party of China denies this definition, probably because it wants to keep the authority in its hands. China’s position can be simplified as wanting to allow Hong Kong citizens to vote from the list of candidates offered by the Chinese government, which is criticized as “fake universal suffrage” by the representatives in the pro-democracy camp. In some sense, it is a question of frustrated expectations. According to Penn State’s psychology professor Dr. John A. Johnson, “human beings have a natural tendency to pin their hopes for happiness on fulfilled expectations.” How long can protestors hold onto the hope of fulfillment?
According to professor Melissa Michelson, it is possible that the Communist Party will “wait until the public gets tired of protesting” and then place more limitations on Hong Kong in order to prevent similar situations from happening again. In other words, China will wait till the people of Hong Kong no longer expect that their protests will achieve anything, and then ensure that such expectations never find expression again.
Ives, Mike. “What Is Hong Kong’s Extradition Bill?” The New York Times, The New York
Times, 10 June 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/10/world/asia/hong-kong-extradition-bill.html. Accessed 13 Feb 2020
Yunsheng. “Wudasuqiuzhi ‘shuang puxuan’: xianggang yu beijing nanyimihe de honggou. [The
“dual Universal Suffrage” of the Five Appeals: the Huge Gap between Hong Kong and Beijing that cannot be Eliminated ” BBC News chinese, BBC, 17 Sept. 2019, https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/simp/chinese-news-49644948. Accessed 10 Feb 2020
“Baoanju huiying fan taofantiaoli youxing juefei wei mouyi sifa guanhequ xiuding. [The
Security Bureau respond to the protest that run against the extradition bill, it is impossible to only apply the bill on a specific district]” Bastille Post, 31 Mar. 2019, https://www.bastillepost.com/hongkong/article/4179556-%E3%80%90%E9%80%83%E7%8A%AF%E6%A2%9D%E4%BE%8B%E3%80%91%E4%BF%9D%E5%AE%89%E5%B1%80%E7%A8%B1%E7%B5%95%E9%9D%9E%E7%82%BA%E6%9F%90%E4%B8%80%E5%8F%B8%E6%B3%95%E7%AE%A1%E8%BD%84%E5%8D%80%E4%BF%AE%E8%A8%82. Accessed 10 Feb 2020
“Linzhengyuee chehui《taofantiaoli》xiuli: zhongkou nantiao zhiju. [Carrie Lam withdraw the
imposition of extradition bill: an helpless move to relieve the situation] ” BBC News chinese, BBC, 5 Sept. 2019, www.bbc.com/zhongwen/simp/chinese-news-49591650. Accessed 10 Feb 2020
“Xianggang taofantiaoli xiuding zhengyi yizhangtu kanwan quanguocheng. [The controversy of
Hong Kong’s imposition of extradition bill, watch the whole process within one figure]” BBC News chinese, BBC, 20 June 2019, https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/simp/chinese-news-48619305. Accessed 10 Feb 2020