Hong Kong: more than a million march against extradition bill

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

Peter Hessler fans: a quick plug for the latest podcast from ChinaEconTalk: From Beijing to Cairo: Peter Hessler and the craft of foreign correspondence.

Wu’er Kaixi reflects on the movement 30 years after Tiananmen: On the Sinica Podcast this week, Kaiser is joined by Nury Turkel of the Uyghur Human Rights Project in an in-depth conversation with Wu’er Kaixi (Örkesh Dölet), best known as one of the student leaders in the Tiananmen protests that rocked Beijing 30 years ago. Listen by plugging this RSS feed directly into your podcast app. Early access for Access members only!

On June 19, we’ll be hosting another SupChina Direct conference call. Our guest this time: Stephen Roach, former head of Morgan Stanley Asia and currently a professor at Yale University. It’s free for all Access members — please click here to sign up.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief


1. Hong Kong: More than a million march against extradition bill

On June 9, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents from all walks of life — including, attendees noted, many who had previously avoided participating in marches in the city — came together to protest an extradition bill that they fear would give China’s Communist Party–controlled legal organs the power to arrest anyone in Hong Kong and send them to mainland China to face an opaque and arbitrary justice system.  

William Yang reports for SupChina:

  • “The protests might well have been the largest Hong Kong has seen since the 1997 handover — organizers say 1.03 million people took part, while police estimate 240,000 at its peak.”

  • Two small rounds of changes to the extradition bill have been made since it was introduced in February. However, “many still view the concessions as merely cosmetic, and call the government’s claim that the bill is aimed at closing legal loopholes a ‘complete lie.’”

  • “Many cited distrust of the Chinese government as the primary reason for attending Sunday’s protest,” and some called the extradition bill merely “the latest step in Beijng’s plan to turn Hong Kong into just another Chinese city.”

  • The protests “will rejuvenate and reignite Hong Kong people’s hopes, something that was kind of lost after the Umbrella Movement in 2014,” commented Avery Ng, a longtime activist and chairman of Hong Kong’s League of Social Democrats.

  • Eight hours after the protest started, “riot police surrounded Hong Kong’s legislative council and clashed with protesters who stayed at the scene… Batons and pepper spray were used on protesters, who responded by hurling bottles and metal barricades at the police. An hour after the initial clash, stragglers were removed from the scene without much resistance.”

  • More protests will surely accompany the next reading of the extradition bill, scheduled this Wednesday, June 12. The SCMP reports that “about 100 businesses” in the city have pledged to “close doors to allow workers to join” protests on that day.

SupChina’s Anthony Tao was on the ground in Hong Kong, and took video and photos. He comments that the police estimate of fewer than 300,000 protestors is “laughably low,” and notes that “the two-mile march was clean and orderly.” Afterward, the protest route had “not a speck of trash in sight, which is almost as amazing as the turnout itself.”

The Hong Kong government, and Beijing, were defiant following the protests. “As responsible officials standing here, we are duty-bound” to fix legal loopholes, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam 林鄭月娥 said, continuing the same argument as before for the extradition bill in a statement to the press, the Hong Kong Free Press reports.

  • The two earlier amendments “have effectively allayed most of those earlier worries,” a Hong Kong government spokesperson said earlier, Xinhua reported. (Over 70 NGOs and 15 prominent judges and lawyers recently emphasized that their worries have not been allayed.)

  • “Some foreign forces are seizing the opportunity to advance their own strategy to hurt China by trying to create havoc in Hong Kong,” the state-run China Daily asserted in an editorial.

  • Beijing “will continue to support the Hong Kong government to pass an extradition law,” a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said today, Reuters reports.

In Hong Kong’s newspapers, and in English-language newspapers around the world, photos of the protests filled the front page today.

  • In mainland China, however, state television carried no live coverage of the protests and instead broadcast a story on road repairs in Kyrgyzstan (no, really).

  • On WeChat, “censorship has become more subtle,” BBC reporter Zhaoyin Feng wrote, as posts about the protest sent to group chats can only be seen by users based in Hong Kong, but not in mainland China.

  • On Weibo, some Hong Kong–related searches came up with zero results, journalist Shen Lu added.

  • “Ordinarily well informed friends in China have told me they had no idea of the events last night in Hong Kong,” veteran journalist Howard French commented.

—Lucas Niewenhuis

2. Beijing News publisher accused of corruption

Dài Zìgèng 戴自更, former publisher and co-founder of popular daily newspaper The Beijing News, has been accused of “serious violations of discipline and law,” usually a prelude to being done in on corruption charges. “The discipline inspection commission of the Party’s Beijing branch announced” the charges today, June 10, reports the South China Morning Post.

Launched in 2003, The Beijing News brought a new sophistication to newspapers in the capital in design and tone. More importantly, over the years, the newspaper broke several notable stories, sometimes shining a light on some dark places in Beijing and beyond.  

Sometimes the dark places fight back.

3. Plugging up a few last holes in the Great Firewall

Who knows why they weren’t already blocked, but the websites of the Guardian, Huffington Post, and Washington Post as well as Australia’s The Age and News.com.au are all now blocked in China.

Are there any credible English-language news or current affairs websites still accessible without a VPN from behind the Great Firewall?  

—Jeremy Goldkorn


BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

Last year, the government said human genetic material was an “important strategic resource.” Now come the regulations to manage it:

China said on Monday it will tighten regulations on human genetic material, putting checks on the passing of it abroad and insisting that any foreign companies or institutes wanting to use it in their work do so with a Chinese partner.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

Young Chinese are increasingly embracing the so-called naked resignation [裸辞 luǒ cí], in which a worker resigns from their job without a backup plan or even worrying about what comes next. The practice is often framed as symbolic of a generational shift in values, with young people less interested in centering their lives around work, but I wonder if it isn’t also indicative of a shift in material conditions. With so many stuck in dead-end jobs and unable to afford sky-high down payments — the traditional buy-in to the middle class — it’s no wonder they’re rethinking their attitudes toward work.

“Fucking amazing!” was filmmaker 邱阳 Qiū Yáng’s two-word acceptance speech upon becoming the first Chinese director to win the top Palme d’Or prize at Cannes Film Festival in May 2017. With his new short She Runs, Qiu has just scored his second Cannes win in three years, taking home the Leitz Cine Discovery Prize for Short Film  last month in France.

“Báizuǒ” (白左) — literally “White Left” — is one of the stranger insults arising on the Chinese internet over the last two years. Equivalent to something like “libtard,” “leftard,” or maybe even “Social Justice Warrior” in English, it scoffs at those who are too concerned with the environment, rights for ethnic minorities, immigrants, or the LGBTQ community.

See also on SupChina:

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Scenes from Hong Kong’s anti-extradition protest

“No extradition to China, oppose evil law” — 返送中, 抗恶法 — so went the refrain on Sunday in Hong Kong during one of the largest protests in the city’s history, in which hundreds of thousands walked west from Victoria Park to the city’s Legislative Council Complex in Admiralty in opposition to a proposed extradition bill. Here’s what it looked like.

Hong Kong ‘not ready to give up’: Historic protest against extradition bill

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets on Sunday in Hong Kong to demonstrate against a controversial proposed extradition bill. Demonstrators chanted “No China extradition” and “Oppose evil law” while marching from Victoria Park to the city’s legislative council offices about two miles west. At the center of the conflict is a set of amendments to Hong Kong’s Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, first proposed by the Hong Kong government in February, which critics say could leave any Hong Kong resident or foreign visitor passing through vulnerable to extradition to mainland China, where the courts are controlled by the Communist Party.

Kuora: Revisiting the ‘Taiping Civil War’

The outcome of the Taiping Civil War — as Stephen Platt, the author of the excellent book Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom, calls it — could easily have been different. Platt argues quite convincingly that the major foreign power of the day, the British, was close to being persuaded either not to intercede on behalf of the Qing dynasty or to actively support the Taiping.

China enters Women’s World Cup with high expectations but brutal draw

China has reached the quarterfinals in six of the last seven FIFA Women’s World Cups, with 2011 the sole exception as the team failed to qualify. A run to the quarterfinals this year, though, could be extremely tough. Despite having one of the best players in the world in Wang Shuang 王霜 — the reigning Asian Women’s Footballer of the Year — China’s Group B draw is brutal, with No. 2 Germany, No. 13 Spain, and No. 49 South Africa.

Friday Song: ‘Song of Joy,’ a Jiangnan sizhu classic

Jiangnan sizhu — 江南丝竹 (jiāngnán sīzhú), literally meaning “Jiangnan,” an area south of the Yangtze River, and “silk and bamboo” — is a genre of chamber music played indoors in refined, small ensembles. This particular recording of “Song of Joy” features an all-star lineup of musicians: Lu Chunling 陆春龄 on the dizi 笛子, Zhou Hui 周惠 on the yangqin 扬琴, Ma Shenglong 马圣龙 on the pipa 琵琶, and Zhou Hao 周皓 on the erhu 二胡.


SINICA PODCAST NETWORK

Sinica Early Access: A student leader 30 years after Tiananmen: Wu’er Kaixi reflects on the movement

This week, Kaiser is joined by Nury Turkel of the Uyghur Human Rights Project in an in-depth conversation with Wu’er Kaixi (Örkesh Dölet), best known as one of the student leaders in the Tiananmen protests that rocked Beijing 30 years ago. He talks about the heady intellectual freedom of the 1980s, the movement’s goals in 1989, the frustrations of exile, and his growing involvement in the Uyghur diaspora’s efforts to draw attention to Beijing’s draconian detentions of Uyghurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.

  • Sinica Early Access is an ad-free, full-length preview of this week’s Sinica Podcast, exclusively for SupChina Access members. Listen by plugging this RSS feed directly into your podcast app.