Could the Violent Protests in Hong Kong Backfire?


Olivia Enos

Security, Asia

The recent turn toward violence is souring initial positive impressions.

Could the Violent Protests in Hong Kong Backfire?

A July 1 protest is nothing new for Hong Kong. That’s the anniversary of Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to China.

But this year, the protest turned violent—a sharp contrast to the largely peaceful protests that had taken place in the weeks preceding, when millions of people took to the streets to oppose a proposed extradition law that would permit individuals to be sent to China at Beijing’s bidding.

Those earlier, peaceful protests had delivered results. The proposed extradition law was tabled by Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam.

But things changed on July 1. Masked protestors broke into the LegCo building, graffitied the walls, and engaged in largely destructive and pointless behavior. Such actions undermine the original purpose of the June protests that sought to safeguard and uphold the rule of law.

Martin Lee, one of the chief architects of Hong Kong’s Basic Law which governs the semi-autonomous region after its handover to Beijing, poignantly wrote in the Washington Post: There is no extradition law because there is no rule of law in China, where the Chinese Communist Party dictates who is innocent and who is guilty.

Rule of law is, in fact, central to why protestors originally took to the streets, so to diverge from upholding it themselves, is to do their cause a major disservice.

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