Has Hong Kong scored a victory?

Hundreds of thousands of people once again demonstrated in Hong Kong on the weekend. Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Saturday suspended the planned extradition law and apologised to the people. But the demonstrators are still calling for her to step down and for the controversial bill, which would allow alleged criminals to be extradited to mainland China, to be scrapped.

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Público (PT) /

For the sake of our children no longer silent

Beijing's laws must not apply in Hong Kong, stresses Professor Selina Cheng in a commentary in Público:

“I have explained to my daughters why we should participate in the protest movement: if the law is passed China's laws will be applied in Hong Kong and we will no longer be able to say '8964' (in reference to the Tiananmen massacre of 4 June 1989). ... We need the independence and autonomy of our justice system. We deserve at least a proper debate about this legislation and to not have the government shove these laws down our throats. We will no longer remain silent. This will be a battle that we fight for ourselves and our children, because we still believe that a government should listen to its citizens.”

Avvenire (IT) /

The Church promoted democracy

The Catholic Church has also contributed to the critical awareness of civil society in Hong Kong, Avvenire writes:

“Those who believe that the 'Asian Switzerland' is now condemned to apathy and cult of the market have been proven wrong. ... This is due to the formation of a democratic awareness that the Catholic Church has patiently nurtured with comprehensive educational measures. ... The Catholic Church, together with other Christian faiths, have always participated in protest movements. Church leaders were often among those protesting. Cardinal Joseph Zen, the emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, always attended the annual vigil commemorating the Tiananmen massacre. The current auxiliary bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing has also voiced his support for the demonstrators.”

Der Standard (AT) /

A stage victory for civil rights

The pressue Beijing exerts on Hong Kong won't disappear, but it has been curbed for the time being, Der Standard explains:

“The protest movement has scored a notable victory: the government has announced that the controversial extradition bill will at least be put on ice for now. Beijing even voiced its 'support, respect, and understanding'. Although the demonstrators are demanding that the bill be scrapped entirely, they have made it very clear that they won't just sit back and watch as their special status is eroded. ... This, too, is only a stage victory. Under the difficult conditions of the Hong Kong democracy, however, that's quite an achievement.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Hong Kong could set the tone

Beijing's Hong Kong policy has failed, writes editor-in-chief Maurizio Molinari in La Stampa:

“Beijing's massive economic, legal and infrastructural efforts of the last 20 years aimed at steadily integrating Hong Kong into the mainland have failed to create the preconditions for a cultural or political annexation. In other words: the formula 'one country, two systems' has strengthened rather than weakened, the Hong Kong model. It's become a boomerang for Beijing, which is now confronted with a deep-rooted sense of autonomy. ... The biggest risk for Xi Jinping is that the other autonomous regions - starting with Tibet and Xinjiang - will be energised by what is taking place in Hong Kong and start to believe that the regime can be defied.”

NV (UA) /

A task for real patriots

Hong Kong has become a model for all China with its protests, writes Russian political scientist Andrei Subov in Novoye Vremya:

“The demonstrators, the majority of whom are young, have won. And on the Chinese mainland - silence. Over there they don't officially commemorate the bloody anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. ... The Chinese Communists haven't made up their minds yet about extending their repressive regime to half-free Hong Kong. Hong Kong's inhabitants are not particularly afraid of a 'bloodbath' like that on Tiananmen Square. ... Not the tiniest sound of protest on the continent - but in Hong Kong tensions are boiling over. ... The task for real Chinese patriots is not to unite Hong Kong with China but to turn communist China into a Hong Kong. A very big challenge.”

El Mundo (ES) /

China won't let anything stop it

Unfortunately such protests won't change anything about the fate of the ex-colony, El Mundo fears:

“This is just a temporary victory in defence of the democratic status that the former British colony has enjoyed since it was handed back to China. ... The fight of the people of Hong Kong makes the international community melancholic, because the Communist dictatorship is not going to let anything stop it from steadily increasing its control over this autonomous territory. Beijing can't afford to allow any spaces of freedom when its entire system is based on repression and the complete absence of democratic rights.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Will Xi keep China's promise?

Gazeta Wyborcza explains the demonstrators' motives:

“Hong Kong is a former British colony that was handed back to China in 1997 and still has free courts and rights for persons on trial today. The citizens know how much that is worth and are therefore desperately defending these rights. ... When China took over control of Hong Kong in 1997 it promised to preserve Hong Kong's 'capitalist' freedoms until 2047, according to the 'one country, two systems' motto. ... During this period the metropolis was to remain autonomous and keep its independent courts, public service and freedom of expression. Will Chinese President Xi Jinping keep Deng Xiaoping's promise? The battle over the extradition agreement will make this clear.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Test lab for the future

This conflict is about the future of the whole world, Die Welt is convinced:

“The question of who inherits the Earth will be decided at the intersection between the special administrative region of Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland: between a Confucian Party dictatorship that wants to mould individuals and the media in its own likeness and the idea and reality of Western-style freedom. What's more, it's not a revolt on the edge of the world but a struggle for power at the epicentre of the digital revolution. What started 30 years ago on Tiananmen Square - for China the centre of the universe - as a revolt against the government's tanks, and ended in blood and fire, has been reborn as an inspiration for a new generation: not on the mainland, but in Hong Kong, which is now becoming a laboratory for the future well beyond China's borders.”

Contrepoints (FR) /

A warning to the West

The protests in Hong Kong should open Europe's eyes, Contrepoints believes:

“The constant pressure from Beijing to 'normalise' Hong Kong - that is to rob it of its freedom and put an end to its insolent success model - is a lesson for the West about the true nature of Chinese communism. At the centre of China's political system is the National Congress of the Communist Party, whose military wing is the Politburo Standing Committee. There is no 'authoritarian capitalist' model in China, but a Leninist organisation which makes use of capitalism's economic lessons to widen its dominance. That extends to eliminating the outposts of freedom not only in Asia, but also in the entire world. The lesson from the courage of the Hong Kong demonstrators is a warning for Europe.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Hostages of the trade war

The demonstrators in Hong Kong must be supported, La Stampa demands:

“The human rights of those who are fighting for the things in Hong Kong that are not yet dictatorial have unfortunately fallen hostage to the duel between the US and China: the trade war, the military friction on the trade routes in the Pacific, the fight over technology, over data, artificial intelligence and 5G. For this reason the desperate protest is all the more commendable and deserving of our support. ... Italy's government, which has tended to be well-disposed towards a handful of agreements with the communist regime up to now, could at least put in a word of solidarity, in accordance with Article 10 of our constitution, which protects international human rights and declares extradition [for political crimes] to be unlawful.”