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China Is Courting Disaster in Hong Kong

The likely passage of Hong Kong's controversial extradition law will irrevocably tarnish the city's rule of law and its attractiveness as an international commercial hub. Unless China’s leaders are prepared to accept these disastrous consequences, they should withdraw the bill before it is too late.

WASHINGTON, DC – The world has been riveted by the protests raging in Hong Kong against the city government’s proposed law to allow the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China. About one million people – roughly one-seventh of the former British colony’s population – took to the streets on June 9 to denounce the draft law, and another large protest on June 12 resulted in violent clashes between demonstrators and police.

Yet, despite the massive protests, the Chinese government is determined to get its way. Instead of withdrawing the proposed law, Hong Kong’s Beijing-controlled leaders have fast-tracked the bill and scheduled it for a vote in the city’s Legislative Council at the end of this month. Its adoption would be a calamity not only for Hong Kong, but also for China.

The proposed extradition law would violate China’s pledge to adhere to the model of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong. And by giving the authorities in Beijing a convenient legal tool to grab individuals deemed to be “enemies” of the Chinese state, the legislation would imperil the liberty of Hong Kong’s citizens – and that of foreigners residing there.

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