Hong Kong’s legislature to resume debates on controversial China extradition bill

Hong Kong’s legislature to resume debates on controversial China extradition bill

UPDATE: Hong Kong’s legislature has postponed debate on the extradition bill amid ongoing protests. Hearings on a controversial extradition bill

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UPDATE: Hong Kong’s legislature has postponed debate on the extradition bill amid ongoing protests.

Hearings on a controversial extradition bill will resume in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council today.

If passed, the bill will allow mainland China to extradite cases from Hong Kong’s courts to Beijing’s jurisdiction for crimes carrying sentences of seven or more years. Activists in Hong Kong are fearful that under this new rule Hong Kong courts would have little power to reject or appeal extradition requests. Government officials have defended the measure as a means of closing a ‘legal loophole’, while emphasising the fact that political cases would not be subject to extradition.

Many pro-democracy activists view the move as part of Beijing’s wider crackdown on freedoms in the Chinese territory. Last weekend saw between 300,000 and 1 million protestors take to the streets—about 4% to 14% of Hong Kong’s population—in anti-Beijing protests.

Despite the large-scale protests, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, widely regarded as a Beijing surrogate, has shown no signs of backing down. Her approach to the latest wave of protests is similar to the one taken after protests earlier this year connected to the trials of pro-democracy Umbrella Movement organisers. These protests were ultimately fruitless, with convictions handed down in April.

With Ms Lam pushing to pass the extradition bill by July, the potential for renewed protests looms large. Expect political turbulence in coming months, and, with Beijing’s backing, the bill probably passing, undermining Hong Kong’s rule of law.

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