Hong Kong

Hong Kong Dissidents Win 1 Demand—Now There's 4 More to Go

Today, Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam withdrew the controversial extradition bill that set off protests.

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Earlier today, Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam withdrew the controversial extradition bill that set off protests 13 weeks ago.

The bill would have allowed Hong Kong to extradite suspected criminals to both Taiwan and mainland China. Since 1997, Hong Kong has technically been considered part of China, but was granted significant autonomy through the "one country, two systems" policy, which allows Hongkongers to enjoy basic democratic freedoms. The extradition bill, which was tabled several months ago but not formally withdrawn until now, would have winnowed away at Hong Kong's autonomy.

Though full withdrawal of the extradition bill is a genuine concession, Lam's decision fulfilled only one of the protesters' demands and many pro-democracy dissidents warn that this is not a full victory, but partial appeasement.

The protesters still want the Hong Kong government to address the increasing use of force by police and the lack of free and fair elections. They also want Hong Kong to release people who have been arrested in connection with the protests, and for Lam, who the protesters see as a puppet of Beijing, to step down.

The protesters' additional demands—notably the calls for fully free and democratic elections—were at the core of the 2014 "umbrella movement" protests. Yet Lam is still in charge and candidates for chief executive are still pre-screened and approved by mainland China.

The conflict over mainland China's influence on Hong Kong will pop up again in the future, particularly since Hong Kong's semi-autonomy rests on a 50-year-long treaty that expires in 2047.

"Incidents over these past two months have shocked and saddened Hong Kong people,"  Lam said in a broadcast. "We are all very anxious about Hong Kong, our home. We all hope to find a way out of the current impasse and unsettling times."

More Reason coverage of the Hong Kong protests here.