Distinguishing facts from propaganda during two months of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong is difficult, but important realities now appear clear.
China solemnly agreed to special status for Hong Kong in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. It promised a “high degree of autonomy,” and declared that democracy, the rule of law, and basic human rights would be maintained under the “one country, two systems” model for 50 years.
Beijing has systematically violated these commitments since the 1997 handover, especially in recent years. Its appointed Hong Kong government has opted not to safeguard its autonomy. This harms the city, including its estimated 300,000 Canadian residents, and the vast amount of investment that now enters China through it in large measure because of the still exemplary legal system.
Beijing’s 2014 White Paper on Hong Kong effectively dismissed the continued applicability of the Joint Declaration. It refused to honour long-promised democratic reforms in 2014-15. Some elected legislators were barred from taking up their office in the partially democratic Legislative Council. Some candidates were barred from running for office. Pro-democracy protesters faced harsh sentences; a political party was banned.
A proposed extradition law from Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam would have allowed the removal of persons in transit and political dissidents from the city to mainland China to face an Orwellian system without fair trials or judicial independence, and with widespread torture, forced confessions, televised confessions and executions.
The bill brought a million Hong Kongers into the streets on June 9. Three days later, protesters at a second demonstration were met with police tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and batons. Later, Lam announced she would “suspend” the measure, but protesters demanded its complete, unconditional, and permanent withdrawal. A week later, two million persons took to the streets. Lam has since declared the bill “dead” but her refusal to withdraw it completely has led to more protests. more here