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問題出於人權 | Human rights is the issue
at 9:18pm on 21st June 2019

圖片說明 :

A protester’s sign during the 9 June 2019 rally against the extradition legislation

(Please scroll down for English version)










Human rights is the issue

by John Batten

Simplistic statement:
Of course, Hong Kong should have extradition arrangements with Taiwan and the mainland.
Knowledgeable reply:
Of course, it can’t.

Where do you start to make sense of this statement and reply?

Briefly. Getting to grips with some of the issues requires an appreciation of China’s modern history after the fall of the Qing dynasty; the chaos of the Republican era; the history of colonial treaty ports that were outside Chinese control until 1949; the Japanese invasion of China and then Japan’s defeat by a combined Kuomintang, communist and WWII allied forces; China’s civil war ending in a communist victory and retreat of the KMT to Taiwan in 1949; Taiwan’s years of martial law and evolving democracy; Hong Kong’s colonial history and diverging capitalist and laissez-faire development from the mainland; Hong Kong’s evolving (Cantonese) identity that also embraced the core values of the rule of law, judicial independence, intolerance of corruption and freedom of expression; the mainland’s one-party state and its completely different approach to governance, the rule of law and freedom of expression….

Sometime after I first arrived in Hong Kong in the early 1990s, I heard the story of actor Eric Tsang Chi-wai’s father, Tsang Kai-wing. The story harks back to Hong Kong’s murky past of police corruption and official colonial tolerance of government malpractice that allowed British governance of Hong Kong to tick over. Tsang Kai-wing rose through police ranks between 1940 to 1972 to become a sergeant-major and he worked under one of the corrupt sergeants that supervised the beat policemen who in their daily work crossed paths with hawkers, small businesses and the public: easy and vulnerable sources to collect protection money. While awaiting an appeal on a 3-year sentence for corruption, Tsang fled Hong Kong to Taiwan. The ICAC issued a warrant for his arrest in 1977. Tsang never returned to Hong Kong, never served his sentence, and died in 2011.

Seen by the mainland, and since 1997 by Hong Kong officials, as a “rogue province”, Taiwan sits in legal limbo. Its government and all its instruments of government are seen to be illegitimate. It has been like this since 1949.

I am a member of the International Association of Art Critics-Hong Kong (AICAHK), whose 61 sections around the world and its 4,600 members are under the patronage of UNESCO. AICAHK opposes the proposed amendments to the extradition legislation because human rights and judicial independence on the mainland do not currently fulfil international standards.

One of the main objectives of AICAHK is "to defend freedom of expression and thought and oppose arbitrary censorship." AICA-Hong Kong and AICA-Taiwan are currently the only AICA sections located in greater-China as, currently, the People''s Republic of China does not fulfil AICA''s human rights and freedom of expression criteria. It is an unfortunate and embarrassing reality: the mainland is ineligible to be a member of AICA.

This is extraordinary. Hong Kong has the rule of law, freedom of expression and assembly and an independent judiciary. The mainland, seventy years after the end of the civil war with the Kuomintang, doesn’t.

Originally published in Ming Pao Weekly, 22 June 2019. Translated from the original English by Aulina Chan.

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