Thu, Sep 05, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Manifest destiny and Xi’s HK policy

By Vishal Ranjan

Furthermore, the raising of questions over the presence of foreign judges, a longstanding tradition in the territory’s justice system with deep historical roots in common law, is an attempt at weakening the foundations of an independent and efficient judiciary in Hong Kong.

In addition to that, imposing an extradition bill on a people, subjecting them to the courts of a distant entity following an absolutely different jurisprudence — remember it is still “one country, two systems” until 2047 — is tantamount to infringing on the legal rights of the people themselves.

Only five years ago, the world was witness to another retraction on the part of Xi’s government from its commitment to the Basic Law.

Under Xi’s watch in August 2014, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee put a spear right through the heart of the spirit of universal suffrage when it proposed that a broadly representative “nomination committee” would prescreen the candidates standing for the position of chief executive.

Worse still, not only did the candidate have to enlist the support of more than half of the members on said nomination committee, even the number of candidates was to be limited to two or three.

So at best, this was universal suffrage with Chinese characteristics, not quite measuring up to what is promised in Article 45, Paragraph 2 of the Basic Law stating that “the ultimate aim is the selection of the chief executive by universal suffrage.”

In yet another crippling blow to democracy, the outlawing of the Hong Kong National Party in September 2017 by the Hong Kong Secretary of Security could only be taken as the authorities being in all-too-much of a hurry to clampdown on a party hardly two years old, when whether it could be a threat to the ruling elite of the territory, much less of the PRC, was still open to question.

Furthermore, the November 2017 incorporation of a national anthem law into Hong Kong’s mini constitution by the Standing Committee, stating that any disrespect of the March of the Volunteers be construed as a penal offense, betrays deliberate indoctrination, despite there being pre-existing guidelines on the subject.

Subsequently, the abduction of booksellers in a bid to censor, intimidate and control the publishing industry underlines the extreme lengths to which the communist regime under Xi has gone.

Interestingly, Taiwan has found itself to be the trigger that lit the fuse of the ongoing demonstrations against the extradition bill.

A Hong Kong man wanted in Taiwan for the alleged murder of his girlfriend in Taipei had apparently escaped justice because of mainly two reasons: One, extraterritorial crimes are not punishable under the territory’s law; and two, there is no formal extradition agreement between Hong Kong and Taiwan, with the existing Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance not extending to Taiwan.

This gave the Hong Kong authorities the pretext to force through a bill on extradition that would ease rendition to and from Taiwan, and more ominously, to and from mainland China.

Yet the very fact that the Taiwanese dispensation has taken matters of criminal jurisdiction to the exalted heights of national sovereignty with an eye on asserting its de facto position independent of the PRC suggests that Xi has a more difficult task on his hands vis-a-vis the practically self-governing territory.

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