The Guardian reports:
Hundreds of thousands of protesters have flooded into central Hong Kong again over the postponed extradition bill, calling for a full retraction of the legislation amid fears authorities could resume efforts to pass the proposed law if public anger dimmed.
The demonstrators, many clad in black and carrying white carnation flowers, took to the streets on Sunday after the chief executive, Carrie Lam, announced she had indefinitely halted efforts to pass a proposed extradition law. The legislation would have allowed residents and visitors to be sent for trial in China’s opaque Communist-controlled court system. It represented perhaps the most serious government climbdown since a security law was dropped in 2003, an important democratic moment for a city where people are free to demonstrate but not able to choose their leaders.
However, Lam refused to apologise for police violence towards protesters during Wednesday’s protest, and said her errors were only of communication, not substance, insisting the extradition bill was needed for the city’s security. Protesters, already concerned by police brutality, now fear a crackdown on activists could be on the way.
Louisa Lim on Hong Kong’s defiance:
[T]he curse of living in the eternal immediate present is that the stakes for this “last fight” could not be higher, especially since young Hong Kongers fear that if they are defeated in this battle, there will be nothing left to lose. The failure of the Umbrella movement five years ago, when Hong Kongers occupied important thoroughfares for 79 days, seeking greater democratic participation, to win any concrete gains has raised the stakes further still this time round.
“HK is not China! Not yet!” These few words hastily scrawled on to a piece of A4 paper and tacked on to the concrete strut of a walkway aptly encapsulate the political crisis roiling Hong Kong. … “Not yet” is a reference to the terms of the joint declaration governing Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule in 1997, which promised that the territory’s way of life would remain unchanged for 50 years, until 2047. When it was signed, in 1984, the year 2047 seemed impossibly far off, but the proposed extradition law brings 2047 much, much closer. …
Today, any call to public action, even the act of giving speeches to a rally, requires a greater degree of caution. The young activists involved in recent protests have switched tactics to form leaderless, anonymous collectives, hiding their identities with face masks and using messaging apps to organise. The government has begun to act against these, arresting one Telegram group administrator on suspicion of conspiracy to commit public nuisance. Many activists no longer welcome their photos being taken or doing interviews with foreign media. Within the course of a week, they are becoming as cautious as mainland Chinese dissidents. By shutting young people out of the political process, the government may well have created an underground resistance that sees that radical action can have results.
But the core values that Hong Kongers cherish include universal values, press freedom, judicial independence and civil rights. These are seen by Beijing as among the “seven unmentionables”, putting Hong Kongers on the frontline of the clash between western “universal” values and the Communist party’s need for total control.