By Dr. Yang Jianli and Dr. Wang Deyu
The “anti-extradition bill” protests in Hong Kong, which began in March, have aroused the broad and active participation of Hong Kongers. Without unified leadership and organization, Hong Kongers have created a miracle of non-violent struggle with great courage and wisdom and enriched the experience of non-violent resistance of all mankind. Since June 9, Hong Kongers have exerted tremendous pressure on the Hong Kong Government and the Chinese Communist regime with many demonstrations involving over two million people. On September 4, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam delivered a televised speech and proposed withdrawal of the extradition bill for the first time. This is the result and victory of the continued struggle of the great Hong Kongers.
From the public information – the information leaked by Carrie Lam’s private conversation and the official remarks of the Beijing authorities in the past two days – we are not sure whether Carrie Lam’s late concession is completely Beijing’s decision or a sign of a wedge between Beijing and Lam. If the latter is correct, we hope that Carrie Lam will further demonstrate her unique political qualities which are different from the officials in mainland China and continue to bravely move toward Hong Kongers. Historical evaluations of politicians tend to depend more on how they end rather than how they start their tenure.
However, based on past experience, we should not be too optimistic or be too positive on the compromise of Carrie Lam. I suggest that Hong Kongers carefully assess the motives of the Hong Kong Government or even the Chinese Communist regime in making the concession at this moment. In any case, we must persist in the struggle and public non-violent protests and we should continue to be highly vigilant against and resist the CCP’s further infiltration and encroachment of Hong Kong’s civil society.
Even today, Carrie Lam’s concession was reluctant and forced. From “suspended” to “dead” to “withdrawal”, these superficial word games have made Hong Kongers pay the price with their blood. Moreover, Carrie Lam’s speech on September 4 evaded the essence of the contradictions, blaming the current unrest in Hong Kong on a few people to challenge the “one country, two systems”, the central government’s office in Hong Kong and the national flag and emblem. More importantly, she avoided talking about the police’s excessive use of violence but accused the protesters of “violent behavior.”
The extradition bill was initiated by Carrie Lam and senior officials of the Hong Kong Government. Now that it has been withdrawn, it means that the draft amendment to the extradition bill was completely wrong and the extradition bill itself destroys the “one country, two systems”. Mrs. Lam should first apologize to Hong Kongers and review this decision-making process to prevent similar mistakes from happening again and to protect the freedom and basic human rights of Hong Kongers.
In the “anti-extradition bill” campaign, which is widely supported by the whole society, the Hong Kong and Beijing authorities not only connive at the police’s excessive use of violence, but also ignore the fact that this movement is a model of non-violent struggle of all mankind. Instead, they branded the movement as “violent” and “riotous” based on the sporadic violence in the movement but turned a blind eye to the acts of the underworld people who attacked peaceful protesters. This shows that the attitude of the Hong Kong Government, the Beijing authorities and Carrie Lam to the protesters is wrong. The protesters have suffered systematical suppression with no end in sight. After the withdrawal of the extradition bill, the heroes who made the greatest contribution will face the risk of being sued and imprisoned.
The suppression of the “anti-extradition bill” movement has shown that the problem of excessive use of violence by the Hong Kong police is extremely prominent. Evidence reveals that the Hong Kong police are increasingly controlled by the mainland authorities. If this cannot be investigated, this issue will infringe upon the freedom and personal safety of Hong Kongers more extensively and directly than the extradition bill itself. Fundamentally speaking, only democracy can protect the rights of the people. For Hong Kong, double universal suffrage is both feasible and necessary.
The forced compromise of Carrie Lam is the result of the pressure from Hong Kongers. The strength of Hong Kongers comes from the combination of personal courage and group action. Their unity is great pressure not only for the Hong Kong Government, but also for the most powerful autocratic government in the world. Therefore, Carrie Lam’s “compromise” may also have the purpose of sowing discord among Hong Kongers. At this moment, we think that Hong Kongers and external supporters should not simply divide Hong Kong protesters into “peaceful-rational camp” and “courageous-militant camp”. It is recommended that Hong Kongers continue to combine courage and wisdom, at the least cost and with flexible means, to strive for the most enduring struggle, and to respect different opinions in the campaign of resistance, and to gain more support within and outside Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is creating a miracle of defending freedom with a limited population and limited resources against the world’s largest tyranny. They deserve our respect, solidarity and support. Some people are pessimistic, but Hong Kongers are winning time, all the turning points and miracles are contained in time!
We pay high tribute to Hong Kongers and pray God will bless all freedom-loving people!
Jianli Yang, Founder and President of Citizen Power Initiatives for ChinaDeyu Wang, Director of Strategy of Citizen Power Initiatives for China