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Hong Kong extradition bill is 'terrible blow' to rule of law, says Patten Hong Kong extradition bill is 'terrible blow' to rule of law, says Patten
(12 days later)
Hong Kong’s last British governor, Chris Patten, has said a proposed extradition bill allowing suspects to be sent to China for trial is a “terrible blow” to the rule of law and will undermine Hong Kong’s reputation as a global financial hub.Hong Kong’s last British governor, Chris Patten, has said a proposed extradition bill allowing suspects to be sent to China for trial is a “terrible blow” to the rule of law and will undermine Hong Kong’s reputation as a global financial hub.
The legal amendments being pushed by the special administrative region’s government would allow case-by-case transfers of people to countries without extradition treaties, including China.The legal amendments being pushed by the special administrative region’s government would allow case-by-case transfers of people to countries without extradition treaties, including China.
Critics in the business, legal and diplomatic communities say the bill would in effect extend China’s coercive reach into Hong Kong and erode the rule of law.Critics in the business, legal and diplomatic communities say the bill would in effect extend China’s coercive reach into Hong Kong and erode the rule of law.
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with a guarantee that under a “one country, two systems” mode of governance, the city would retain a high degree of autonomy, an independent judiciary and freedoms not allowed in mainland China.Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with a guarantee that under a “one country, two systems” mode of governance, the city would retain a high degree of autonomy, an independent judiciary and freedoms not allowed in mainland China.
Patten, who at 75 remains a figure of some influence and has continued to speak out on Hong Kong affairs, said the bill was the worst thing to happen to the city under Chinese rule.Patten, who at 75 remains a figure of some influence and has continued to speak out on Hong Kong affairs, said the bill was the worst thing to happen to the city under Chinese rule.
“It’s a proposal, or a set of proposals, which strike a terrible blow … against the rule of law, against Hong Kong’s stability and security, against Hong Kong’s position as a great international trading hub,” Patten said in a video commentary posted online on Thursday.“It’s a proposal, or a set of proposals, which strike a terrible blow … against the rule of law, against Hong Kong’s stability and security, against Hong Kong’s position as a great international trading hub,” Patten said in a video commentary posted online on Thursday.
The protests were triggered by a controversial bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, where the Communist party controls the courts, but have since evolved into a broader pro-democracy movement.The protests were triggered by a controversial bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, where the Communist party controls the courts, but have since evolved into a broader pro-democracy movement.
Public anger – fuelled by the aggressive tactics used by the police against demonstrators – has collided with years of frustration over worsening inequality and the cost of living in one of the world's most expensive, densely populated cities.Public anger – fuelled by the aggressive tactics used by the police against demonstrators – has collided with years of frustration over worsening inequality and the cost of living in one of the world's most expensive, densely populated cities.
The protest movement was given fresh impetus on 21 July when gangs of men attacked protesters and commuters at a mass transit station – while authorities seemingly did little to intervene. The protest movement was given fresh impetus on 21 July when gangs of men attacked protesters and commuters at a mass transit station – while authorities seemingly did little to intervene. 
Underlying the movement is a push for full democracy in the city, whose leader is chosen by a committee dominated by a pro-Beijing establishment rather than by direct elections.Underlying the movement is a push for full democracy in the city, whose leader is chosen by a committee dominated by a pro-Beijing establishment rather than by direct elections.
Protesters have vowed to keep their movement going until their core demands are met, such as the resignation of the city's leader, Carrie Lam, an independent inquiry into police tactics, an amnesty for those arrested and a permanent withdrawal of the bill. Protesters have vowed to keep their movement going until their core demands are met, such as the resignation of the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, an independent inquiry into police tactics, an amnesty for those arrested and a permanent withdrawal of the bill.
Hongkongers have seen Beijing’s influence grow in recent years, as activists have been jailed and pro-democracy lawmakers disqualified from running or holding office. Independent booksellers have disappeared from the city, before reappearing in mainland China facing charges. Beijing’s influence over Hong Kong has grown in recent years, as activists have been jailed and pro-democracy lawmakers disqualified from running or holding office. Independent booksellers have disappeared from the city, before reappearing in mainland China facing charges.
Under the terms of the agreement by which the former British colony was returned to Chinese control in 1997, the semi-autonomous region was meant to maintain a “high degree of autonomy” through an independent judiciary, a free press and an open market economy, a framework known as “one country, two systems”.Under the terms of the agreement by which the former British colony was returned to Chinese control in 1997, the semi-autonomous region was meant to maintain a “high degree of autonomy” through an independent judiciary, a free press and an open market economy, a framework known as “one country, two systems”.
The extradition bill was seen as an attempt to undermine this and to give Beijing the ability to try pro-democracy activists under the judicial system of the mainland.The extradition bill was seen as an attempt to undermine this and to give Beijing the ability to try pro-democracy activists under the judicial system of the mainland.
Lam has shown no sign of backing down beyond agreeing to suspend the extradition bill, while Beijing has issued increasingly shrill condemnations but has left it to the city's semi-autonomous government to deal with the situation. Meanwhile police have violently clashed directly with protesters, repeatedly firing teargas and rubber bullets.Lam has shown no sign of backing down beyond agreeing to suspend the extradition bill, while Beijing has issued increasingly shrill condemnations but has left it to the city's semi-autonomous government to deal with the situation. Meanwhile police have violently clashed directly with protesters, repeatedly firing teargas and rubber bullets.
Beijing has ramped up its accusations that foreign countries are “fanning the fire” of unrest in the city. China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi has ordered the US to “immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any form”.Beijing has ramped up its accusations that foreign countries are “fanning the fire” of unrest in the city. China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi has ordered the US to “immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any form”.
Lily Kuo and Verna Yu in Hong KongLily Kuo and Verna Yu in Hong Kong
The law would “remove the firewall between Hong Kong’s rule of law and the idea of law which prevails in communist China”, Patten said. “An idea of law where there aren’t any independent courts, where the courts and the security services and the party’s rule, which are sometimes pretty obscure, are rolled all together,” he said, referring to China’s ruling Communist party.The law would “remove the firewall between Hong Kong’s rule of law and the idea of law which prevails in communist China”, Patten said. “An idea of law where there aren’t any independent courts, where the courts and the security services and the party’s rule, which are sometimes pretty obscure, are rolled all together,” he said, referring to China’s ruling Communist party.
Despite pressure on the government to scrap the bill, including a planned protest march on Sunday that organisers hope will draw several hundred thousand people, Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, insists the bill is necessary to plug legal loopholes and would help ensure public safety.Despite pressure on the government to scrap the bill, including a planned protest march on Sunday that organisers hope will draw several hundred thousand people, Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, insists the bill is necessary to plug legal loopholes and would help ensure public safety.
Patten called the loophole argument “absolute nonsense” and alluded to longstanding concerns about China’s legal system that would make it difficult to guarantee a fair trial.Patten called the loophole argument “absolute nonsense” and alluded to longstanding concerns about China’s legal system that would make it difficult to guarantee a fair trial.
“People have known exactly why there shouldn’t be an extradition agreement with China for years, and many of the arguments put for the government’s proposals don’t actually pass the laugh-off-your-seat test,” he said.“People have known exactly why there shouldn’t be an extradition agreement with China for years, and many of the arguments put for the government’s proposals don’t actually pass the laugh-off-your-seat test,” he said.
He pointed to the cases of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, arrested in China on spying charges shortly after Meng Wanzhou, an executive with the Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies, was arrested in Canada on a US warrant.He pointed to the cases of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, arrested in China on spying charges shortly after Meng Wanzhou, an executive with the Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies, was arrested in Canada on a US warrant.
“I hope that even at this late stage the government will back off,” Patten said of the extradition bill.“I hope that even at this late stage the government will back off,” Patten said of the extradition bill.
“It doesn’t have to happen. It shouldn’t happen and Hong Kong should carry on as a free society under the rule of law without having to worry about this extradition.”“It doesn’t have to happen. It shouldn’t happen and Hong Kong should carry on as a free society under the rule of law without having to worry about this extradition.”
Hong KongHong Kong
Lord PattenLord Patten
ChinaChina
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