More than a million people in Hong Kong marched against a controversial extradition bill that they fear will erode freedom in the semi-autonomous territory.
Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841, when China ceded the island to the British after the First Opium War - which had erupted over British traders smuggling opium into China.
Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997 as a ‘special administrative region’. The territory has been ruled under the ‘one country, two systems’ formula agreed by then U.K. and Chinese leaders. Hong Kong citizens have more autonomy and freedom than their mainland counterparts, but the elective process is still partly controlled by China.
At present, Hong Kong residents can only vote for pre-approved political candidates under Chinese law, making it impossible for a critic of Beijing to get on the ballot.
Immediate Reason - The Extradition Bill proposed by Chief Executive:
Critics fear bill will compromise Hong Kong's judicial system and prove the 'death knell' of 'one country, two systems'.
Other major belief among the Hong Kongers, behind the protest is that since 1997 (since Hong Kong got the status status), China is consistently trying to erode the principle of one country, two systems.
Why authorities pushed for the new law
The Hong Kong administration first proposed the changes in February, citing the case of local man who was wanted for the suspected murder of his pregnant girlfriend while the two were on holiday in Taiwan.
Officials said he could not be sent back to Taiwan for trial because there was no formal extradition agreement between the two territories.
Hong Kong's extradition arrangements are laid out in the Foreign Offenders Ordinance, which was negotiated in 1997 when the UK returned the territory to China.
Taiwan, Macau and the mainland were not included in that agreement in what the Hong Kong Bar Association says was a "deliberate decision" on the part of the legislature given the "fundamentally different criminal justice system operating in the mainland.
What are the amendments?
What are peoples' concerns?
China has said it played no part in Hong Kong's decision to amend its extradition law, but it has indicated it supports the initiative.
India is also a stakeholder in the issues because Hong Kong is home to India’s wealthy business community.
It is not the first time that the Hong Kongers are on streets to protest against the attempts made by Mainland China to erode the special status. But this time, the protestors are around 1 million, highest ever. Since the chief executive has clarified that bill is just suspended and not withdrawn, it is yet to be seen what course of action is adopted by the Hong Kong administration. There is also a possibility of western vested interest behind the colour revolutions in Hong Kong.
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