Hong Kong Hits the Streets

Hong Kong Hits the Streets

Hundreds of thousands of protesters packed the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to denounce a plan that would allow the territory's government to extradite residents to mainland China for trial. The demonstrations looked to be the largest since the British handover of Hong Kong in 1997, and more protests are scheduled for Wednesday.


The Background: From 1841, Hong Kong was governed as a British colony. A handover from Britain to China in 1997 was conditioned on a principle of "One China Two Systems," which recognizes Hong Kong as part of China while allowing the territory its own legislature, economic system, judicial independence, and a "high degree of autonomy." The territory is governed according to a "Basic Law," a sort of constitution that guarantees these rights. China has control of Hong Kong's foreign and defense policies.

The Basic Law expires in 2047, and many Hong Kongers fear that Beijing is already trying to strip away the territory's rights. Five years ago, a set of pro-democracy sit-in demonstrations known as the "Umbrella Movement" gained international attention and embarrassed China for nearly three months.

What triggered this latest fight? A Hong Kong citizen named Chan Tong Kai has confessed to murdering his girlfriend during a visit to Taiwan last year. But Chan, back in Hong Kong, can't be returned to Taiwan: Hong Kong has no extradition treaty with Taiwan, and he can't be tried in Hong Kong for a murder committed elsewhere. He did plead guilty to lesser charges and received a sentence of 29 months in prison.

Things got hot when Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's Chief Executive, proposed legal changes that would not only allow Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to Taiwan but also to mainland China. This ignited fears that China could demand that Hong Kong surrender its citizens under any pretext, effectively ending the legal rights protected by the Basic Law.

What does Hong Kong's government say? Lam says Hong Kong must not be a sanctuary for Chinese criminals hoping to escape justice on the mainland, and she argues that Hong Kong's courts will protect its citizens against arbitrary or politically motivated extradition requests from Beijing.

What do the protesters say? They insist that Lam, who rose to her position with Beijing's support, will not protect the rights of the territory's citizens when China pressures her.

What does Beijing say? The state-run China Daily says that "some Hong Kong residents have been hoodwinked by the opposition camp and their foreign allies into supporting the anti-extradition campaign."

The broader fear: Outsiders are also watching this story closely, in part because Hong Kong is home to one of the world's most important financial centers and an airport that serves as transfer point for large numbers of international travelers. Fears that China could seize anyone at any time could have a chilling effect on both.

More broadly, if these protests gain more momentum, will the Hong Kong government, or Beijing, respond more forcefully? That might create a much larger and more dangerous problem.

Yau Abdul Karim lives and works in Garin Mai Jalah, located in the Yobe State of northeastern Nigeria. Essential to his work raising cattle is reliable access to water, yet environmental degradation has led to fewer water sources, severely impacting communities like his that depend on livestock. In 2019, with the help of FAO, Eni installed a special solar-powered well in Yau's town that provides water during the day as well as light at night.

Watch Yau's story as he shows how his family and community enjoy life-enhancing access to both water and light.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. And I thought I'd talk a little bit today about the latest in Israel, Palestine. It's obviously been driving headlines all week. And of course, on social media, there's no topic that we all get along and agree with each other more than Israel, Palestine. It's an easy one to take on. Yeah, I know I'm completely full of crap on that. But I thought I would give you some sense of what I think is actually happening where we're going. So first point, massive fight, big conflict between Hamas in Gaza and the Israeli defense forces. Not only that, but also more violence and a lot of violence breaking out between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews. Extremists on both sides taking to the streets and fairly indiscriminate violence, in this case, worst since 2014.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

Who is Elise Stefanik and what does she mean for the Republican Party right now?

Elise Stefanik is a young member from Upstate New York. She had originally started her career as a staffer in the George W. Bush administration, but in recent years, has turned into one of the most outspoken defenders of President Donald Trump, particularly during the impeachment trial last year. She's relevant right now because it looks like she'll be replacing Liz Cheney, the Representative from Wyoming and also the daughter of the former Vice President, who has been outspoken in her criticism of President Trump since the January 6th insurrection, and probably more importantly, outspoken in her criticism of the direction of the Republican Party.

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Watch the episode: India's COVID calamity

Listen: Ask national security experts how they view China today and they'll likely the use a term like "adversary" or "economic competitor." But what about "enemy?" How close is the world to all-out-war breaking out between United States and China? According to US Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.), who served as Supreme Allied Commander to NATO, those odds are higher than many would like to admit. In fact, Stavridis says, the US risks losing its military dominance in the coming years to China. And if push comes to shove in a military conflict, it's not entirely clear who would prevail. Admiral Stavridis discusses his bestselling new military thriller 2034 and makes the case for why his fictional depiction of a US-China war could easily become reality.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

What's the issue with the letter in France talking about the "civil war"?

Well, I think it is part of the beginning of the French election campaign. We have some people in the military encouraged by the more right-wing forces, warning very much for the Muslim question. That's part of the upstart to the election campaign next year. More to come, I fear.

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Beyond SolarWinds: Securing Cyberspace. Watch on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 10am PT/ 1pm ET

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Beyond SolarWinds: Securing Cyberspace | Watch on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 10am PT / 1 pm PT

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