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Hong Kong protesters keep on fighting against sliding freedoms and Chinese interference

Protests: Police fire tear gas at protesters near the government headquarters in Hong Kong. Photo: AFP

HONG Kong is at a crossroads.

On one side are the rubber bullets, the pepper spray, the tear gas and the batons which mark the prospect of becoming yet another city under Chinese rule, and on the other is a million protesters who defaced the parliament building, a rebel mass of freedom fighters.

The spark that lit the fire of rebellion was a controversial extradition bill brought in by Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam on June 18.

Among other things, it stipulated that authorities from mainland China, Taiwan and Macau could make extradition requests for suspects accused of crimes.

The problem – China has been known to flagrantly use similar laws for arbitrary detention, unfair trial and torture.

The Church is no stranger to China’s persecutions.

Among the first to speak out against the proposed extradition law was Cardinal Joseph Zen, the retired archbishop of Hong Kong.

Beyond worries that the law could be used by mainland officials to punish churches in Hong Kong, Cardinal Zen said Christians were united with other protesters by a fear that the law would leave Hong Kong residents vulnerable to the whims of mainland courts.

“Our clergy is rather conservative; not many usually come out,” he said. 

“But I think this is a moment when we should stand with the people. 

“Otherwise, we are against the people, and there is no middle way.”

Hong Kong diocese apostolic administrator Cardinal John Tong Hon and Hong Kong Christian Council chairman Dr Eric So Shingyit called on Ms Lam to withdraw the controversial extradition bill.

They also wanted the sitting government to set up an inquiry into police handling of the protests.

The pair also called on the chief executive to publicly apologise.

Co-founder and chair of Hong Kong Watch Benedict Rogers wrote an opinion piece for ucanews.com expressing how he couldn’t remember Hong Kong ever being this unstable.

Mr Rogers was full of questions.

“Does Hong Kong have any chance of salvaging the situation, redeeming’one country, two systems’, protecting its few remaining basic freedoms?” he wrote.

“Or has it now crossed the Rubicon, which will turn it into just another Chinese city?

“Do Hong Kong’s freedoms, the rule of law and autonomy matter to the world, or is Hong Kong no longer the international financial centre and regional trading hub it was?

“Do China’s obligations in an international treaty, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, agreed in 1984 between Margaret Thatcher and Zhao Ziyang and lodged at the United Nations, valid until 2047, matter anymore, or is the world just going to allow China to rip up and trample all over them? 

“And if so, what does that say about China’s reliability in the international rules-based order?”

What is known is that nearly a third of the city’s population took to the streets and millions showed support from behind the scenes and behind their screens.

“Christians praying and singing turned a little chorus – ‘Sing Hallelujah to the Lord’ – into an anthem for the entire movement, regardless of faith,” Mr Rogers wrote.

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