Chinese Condemnation of Hong Kong Protests Violence - Yet the Root Causes of Demonstrations Remain
China, via its Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, earlier today, issued a stern rebuke of recent violence associated with protests in its territory of Hong Kong.
Since April, record numbers of the people of Hong Kong have taken to the streets in protest of a proposed extradition law that would have allowed extradition of criminal suspects from Hong Kong to mainland China, and other jurisdictions. The former British colony has extradition treaties with some 21 countries, including the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK). But the people of Hong Kong feared an easy transfer of accused political dissidents to face trial in mainland China, where they fear the Communists' judicial system.
The bill has since been tabled, but not fully withdrawn as demanded by demonstrators. As a result, protests have persisted across the port city and international financial hub. While protests numbers have reached as much as two-million demonstrators of Hong Kong's seven-million population, most of the events have been peaceful up until the times when radical protesters stormed the local legislature and later sparred with police in different locations.
Armed gangs have also attacked protesters. Some Hong Kongers have accused the police of being complacent with the armed gangs and in response to that, last Saturday and Sunday, demonstrators held marches that were punctuated with violence, thus leading to today's condemnation from China.
Yang Guang, the Chinese official of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, said the actions amounted to a "serious challenge to the rule of law" in the semi-autonomous territory. The South China Morning Post reported that the Beijing official reiterated support for Hong Kong's chief executive, Carrie Lam, and the local police. France24 ran the headline: 'China condemns Hong Kong violence...'
The Chinese official called on the people of Hong Kong "to unequivocally oppose and boycott violence", saying that: "The recent developments, especially the acts of violence by a small number of radical elements, have seriously undermined the broad interests of Hong Kong for prosperity and stability."
While China's condemnation of the violence exhibited in Hong Kong is very fitting, the mainland government should also take note of its own admission that the violence was committed by a "small number of radical elements" compared to the two-million plus people, who have demonstrated their reserved right to protest.
Therefore, Beijing has erred on Hong Kong based upon Yang Guang's findings that "Hong Kong's top priority was to punish violent and unlawful acts." Beijing and Hong Kong efforts to calm protests should be prioritized to identifying and tackling the root causes giving rise to dissent in Hong Kong.