Recent Western headlines are shouting:
Before I focus on the current protests in Hong Kong, first, a small history lesson.
China never willingly gave Hong Kong to the British Empire in 1842. Instead, China lost Hong Kong during the Opium Wars, and later leased adjacent territories to the British under pressure in 1860 at the end of the Second Opium War when the UK gained a perpetual lease over the Kowloon Peninsula that’s across the strait from Hong Kong Island.
This agreement was part of the Convention of Beijing that ended that war, a war started by England and France. In each case the British Empire, France, and sometimes the United States, were victorious and gained commercial privileges and legal and territorial concessions from China.
These conflicts over the opium trade was the start of the era of unequal treaties.
Then in 1898, the British and Chinese governments signed the Second Convention of Peking and “Britain was granted an additional 99-years of rule over the Hong Kong colony.”
Fast forward ninety-nine years and on December 19, 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and Britain agreed to return not only the New Territories but also Kowloon and Hong Kong itself when the lease term expired on July 1, 1997. China promised to implement One Country, Two Systems policy, so for fifty years, Hong Kong citizens could continue to practice capitalism and political freedoms forbidden on the mainland.
However, for most of its history under British rule, executive power in Hong Kong was concentrated in the hands of the colony governor, a position appointed by the British crown without any democratic input from Hong Kong citizens. The introduction of elected representatives determined by local elections was limited to the role of advisory councils, and that didn’t start until after the 1984 agreement by the British to hand Hong Kong over to China.
Today, since Hong Kong has never been a democracy, who fears being extradited to mainland China?
You might want to see the list of crimes in the new extradition law that so many Hong Kong citizens are mad about … or fear.
Number One: Murder or manslaughter, including criminal negligence causing death; culpable homicide; assault with intent to commit murder.
Click the previous link and discover the other thirty-six crimes. You might want to also read the nine that were removed like “offenses involving the unlawful use of computers” or “offenses against the law relating to environmental pollution or protection of public health”.
For hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens to be out in the streets protesting and holding thousands of printed signs that all look the same (really), there must be a lot of frauds and crooks in that city fearing they are going to lose their freedom to commit crimes.
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