The escalated protests in Hong Kong over the contentious extradition Bill – as recently as Mon (1 Jul) – could potentially serve as a stain on the city’s reputation as a world-renowned financial and business hub, said China Communist Party’s newspaper The People’s Daily.
Reuters reported that the editorial, published on Wed (3 Jul), suggested that the protests in Hong Kong are an “undisguised challenge” to China’s method of governing the Special Administrative Region, which rests upon the “one country, two systems” model.
“It is not surprising there are some disagreements and even major disputes about certain issues, but if we fall into the whirlpool of ‘overpoliticization’ and artificially create division and opposition, it will not only serve no purpose, but will also severely hinder economic and social development,” said The People’s Daily.
The daily added that Hong Kong “cannot bear turbulence and internal friction” in addition to the challenges posed against the city by a disruption in global markets as a result of rapid technological advancements and increased global competition.
The protests on Mon saw hundreds of protestors taking siege of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council building and breaking into the building, shortly following of the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China by the British in 1997.
While many protestors remained peaceful, even the Hong Kong emblem was not spared from being defaced by several protestors. Journalists were also subjected to verbal and physical abuse by several such protestors who are reportedly pro-police, according to South China Morning Post.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association in a joint statement had strongly condemned the abuses levied by certain protestors against journalists covering the latest protest.
The groups said that the demonstrators had been “jeopardising [journalists’] safety, dealing a blow to press freedom and also undermining the public’s right to know [about the anti-extradition Bill protests]”.
While the government has decided to suspend all Legislative Council debates on the extradition Bill, many Hong Kongers continue to demand a full withdrawal of the Bill and also the resignation of Beijing-backed Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who appears adamant on holding on to her position.
Concerns were raised over the scope of powers that will be granted upon certain jurisdictions Hong Kong decides to extradite crime suspects to – particularly mainland China – should the amendment bill be passed, as certain factions remain sceptical of Beijing’s capacity to refrain from abusing the extradition arrangements.
Amnesty International warned that the proposed legislation “would extend the ability of the mainland authorities to target critics, human rights activists, journalists, NGO workers and anyone else in Hong Kong”.
Raymond Chan Chi-chuen of the pro-democracy party People Power told SCMP that while a delay may be helpful in the short term, “it will not work, as long as they don’t retract the bill”.
“People are ready for further action,” said Chan.