The extradition bill was written to counter a heinous crime; its other intentions are less admirable.
On Feb. 2, 2019, while TU students returned from vacations and made their way into the groove of the spring semester, the city of Hong Kong erupted into chaos over a new extradition bill entering their legislative body. This bill would allow Hong Kong police and government officials, on a case-by-case basis, to return individuals accused of crimes in a foreign country to any state with which Hong Kong has no formal treaty. The issue arises in how reliant the new bill is on single individuals in the court system, with China continuously bribing, threatening and manipulating officials to reach their goals.
While the root cause of the bill may have a tragic impetus in the murder of a pregnant woman by a Taiwanese national, the populace of Hong Kong recognized the threat to their sovereignty under the so-called protection of Mainland China. Before England returned Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997, British Parliament insured the continuation of Hong Kong’s political system installed by British colonists, including their constitution, simply named the Basic Law. Many of the protected rights mirror the U.S. Constitution, such as freedom of assembly, religion, speech and press, but China, under the iron fist of the Communist Party, has taken steps to eliminate those freedoms. With Hong Kong acting as the seat for the Chinese pro-democracy movement, the extradition bill would legalize the kidnapping of anti-China political dissidents, but the reaction over a single bill is unprecedented. In the United States, one would find a scandalous zinger of a headline, see which party supports it, then base their opinion on that. However, Hong Kong has chosen to rise above those petty distinctions.
Such an attack on Hong Kong’s sovereignty has incited millions of Hong Kongers to take to the streets in defense of their way of life, demanding the scrapping of the bill; inquiry into police violence; Carrie Lam’s, the chief executive, resignation; the release of all arrested protesters and greater democratic freedoms. In contrast, we would give it a solid #cancelthis, go to the initial protest and then head home. Remember True Commitment? People saying their major was not getting cut, then not caring about the situation?
While most of the protests are peaceful, citizens have found themselves fighting against the tyranny of Chinese dominance in the brutal Hong Kong riot police, with officers tossing tear gas from rooftops, beating protestors, drawing firearms and rampaging with a maniacal, psychopathic glee, proclaiming they are keeping the peace. During these protests, guerilla groups continue to circumvent Chinese censorship, develop supply chains with complex hand signals and protect members of the press. Viral videos continue to emerge as the protesters refine their craft, such as an individual placing an active tear gas grenade in a thermos full of mud to stop the chemical reaction, but the most impactful action they have taken is continuously protesting for over seven months.
We at TU may not be fighting for the integrity of our nation, but what about True Commitment? Potentially corrupt officials, changes made without the consent of the governed, futures altered by individuals that are removed from reality — similar situations surround us. Do we sit by and let others suffer? Did you remember those that died on 9/11? Hong Kong did. They stopped their protests out of respect for an American tragedy. Remember Hong Kong and the people’s wherewithal and ideas. Remember True Commitment and the injustices done to us. We have to try harder in all areas. In the big, like Hong Kong, in the medium, True Commitment, and in the small, talking to someone new. Be the bar. Be the person you want others to be. Take the first step and keep fighting, because that is all we can do.