Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China has lately become the theatre of extreme demonstrations and riots ostensibly guised as ‘pro-democracy’ protests.
But what really is the root cause of this situation that is increasingly threatening Hong Kong SAR’s social order and also playing into the narrative of certain western media and other external forces? Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Botswana Dr. Zhao Yanbo says the situation in Hong Kong SAR was triggered by a criminal case. It’s said that in February last year, a Hong Kong SAR resident fled back to Hong Kong SAR after killing his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan, China. Since there is no mutual arrangement for legal assistance or extradition arrangement between Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan, the suspected murderer cannot be sent to face trial in Taiwan.
The envoy explains that in order to fix the loopholes of Hong Kong SAR’s rule of law, the Hong Kong SAR Government proposed to amend its Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance. The Hong Kong SAR Government submitted the draft application to Hong Kong SAR’s Legislative Council in February 2019 and solicited opinions from all walks of society. It is hoped that the proposed amendments will allow Hong Kong SAR to surrender fugitive offenders to jurisdictions with which it does not currently have extradition arrangements on a case-by-case basis, such as with Mainland China, Macao SAR and Taiwan. Further, the amendments would fill the existing loopholes in the legal system, help crack down on crimes and demonstrate fairness and justice.
According to the envoy, this is a “necessary move” to improve the rule of law in Hong Kong SAR and should “not cause any controversy”. However, Dr. Yambo laments that this “legitimate” act was “distorted” by the opposition and some foreign forces. They used the confusion and doubts of some Hong Kong SAR citizens who are not aware of the truth, spread rumours and created panic in society and triggered large-scale demonstrations. In order to restore social stability, the Hong Kong SAR Government has decided to suspend the amendments. But the opposition and radical forces in Hong Kong SAR did not stop instead according to Ambassador Yanbo they deliberately incited violence under the cover of “opposing amendments to the ordinances”. They illegally stormed Hong Kong SAR’s Legislative Council and the Liaison Office of the Chinese Central Government, blatantly insulted the Chinese national flag and emblem and the Hong Kong SAR emblem.
They organised massive demonstrations to maliciously block roads, subways and airports to paralyse public traffic, beat visitors and journalists, and assault the police officers even with lethal weapons. The envoy explains that the continuous worsening of the situation of Hong Kong SAR has clearly indicated that the demonstration originated by the issues related to the two Ordinances is moving to a “Hong Kong version of a Colour Revolution” under the intervention of external forces. He says that some of the street fights are changing directions to intentional, premeditated and organised criminal cases which severely threaten the Hong Kong SAR’s public security and challenge the bottom line of the principle of “one country, two systems”. Therefore, ending violence and restoring order is the most important and most urgent task of the Hong Kong SAR Government presently as well as the strongest call of most Hong Kong SAR citizens, says Dr. Yanbo.
Over the past 22 years since Hong Kong SAR’s return to China, the Central Government of China has remained committed to the policies of “one country, two systems”, “the people of Hong Kong SAR governing Hong Kong SAR” and a high degree of autonomy in the Hong Kong SAR, in strict accordance with the Chinese Constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR. Dr. Yanbo says that Hong Kong SAR has been one of the world’s freest economies for the last 22 years with a stable growth of the GDP. For example, in 2018, Hong Kong SAR’s GDP reached 360 billion US dollars, which is more than two times of that in 1996. Hong Kong SAR has been ranked 16th in the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index in 2018, much higher than its 60th position in 1996. However, Dr Yanbo fears that the recent violent actions happening in Hong Kong SAR have already brought negative impact on Hong Kong SAR’s prosperity.
According to the statistics, in July this year, on a year-to-year basis, retail sales in Hong Kong SAR decreased by 11.4 percent, exports fell by 5.7 percent, and the unemployment rate increased by 2.9 percent. Hong Kong SAR’s tourism, retail, catering, transportation and other industries are weathering severe impact because of the violent actions. Tens of thousands of Hong Kong SAR citizens’ livelihoods are facing significant challenges. Dr. Yanbo says that all of these positive and negative factors clearly demonstrate that the “one country, two systems” is the best institutional arrangement for maintaining Hong Kong SAR’s long-term prosperity and stability.
But that said he emphasises that the principle of “one country, two systems” is an integral concept. “One country”, he says, is the fundamental precondition of “two systems”. Discussing “two systems” while putting aside “one country” is a challenge to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and will certainly also harm the fundamental interests of the Hong Kong SAR. Dr Yanbo insists that the rule of law is a core value that Hong Kong SAR people take pride in. It is the foundation for Hong Kong SAR’s sound business environment as well as the cornerstone of its prosperity and stability. Under the rule of law, all laws must be observed and all offenders must be held accountable, he contends. It is impossible, he adds, for any country to accept democracy and freedom unbounded by law.
“Conniving violence is encouraging the violation of law and undermining the rule of law”. Therefore, in order to stop the violent actions as well as to correspond to Hong Kong SAR people’s call for ending violence and restoring order, the Government of Hong Kong SAR, under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, has recently put in place the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation to ban the use of facial covering in public rallies which may prevent the Hong Kong SAR police from identifying the demonstrators.
Dr Yanbo says that similar regulations already exist in many countries. Putting in place the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation does not prevent Hong Kong SAR citizens from fulfilling their rights and freedom including the freedom of assembly.
“It is actually a way of protection for citizens in peaceful assembly and procession”. Currently, ending violence, restoring order and safeguarding prosperity is the appeal of the vast majority of Hong Kong SAR people and the most urgent task facing the Hong Kong SAR. Chinese Envoy unravels root cause of Hong Kong’s riots and protests
Dr Yanbo says that the central Government of China will continue to “unswervingly implement” the one country, two systems policy, fully support the Hong Kong SAR executive-led governance and the Hong Kong SAR communities in dealing with difficulties and challenges, and will never allow any external forces to intervene in Hong Kong SAR affairs, so as to protect the rule of law, restore social order in a timely manner and pave the way for a brighter future for Hong Kong SAR.