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What’s happening to ‘Pearl of the Orient’?

/ 06:24 PM August 11, 2019

Pro-Democracy protesters throw back tear gas fired by the police during a demonstratrion against the controversial extradition bill in Sham Shui Po district in Hong Kong on August 11, 2019. – Thousands of pro-democracy protesters hit the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday for the 10th weekend in a row, once again defying police after a night of “hit-and-run” rallies across the city. (Photo by Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP)

JAKARTA — Hong Kong has long been known as the “Pearl of the Orient”. Since its return to Chinese jurisdiction, with the strong support of the Chinese central government, Hong Kong has enjoyed prosperity and stability as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) and established close economic, investment and people-to-people ties with Asean countries. Since June, however, a series of incidents that have erupted in Hong Kong has drawn wide attention from all over the world. People are wondering what has happened to the Pearl of the Orient?

The origin of these incidents was the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance Amendment Bill proposed by the SAR government, with the purpose of upholding justice and the rule of law in Hong Kong by closing loopholes in the existing laws and cracking down on illegal activities.

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Sadly, some people with ulterior motives provoked several mass demonstrations in Hong Kong with the incitement of some media agencies. In response, the SAR government chose to stop the amendment process on June 15, so as to listen to the public more thoroughly.

However, a small group of protesters misinterpreted the move as an opportunity to go further. They took advantage of the situation and committed violent incidents that went way beyond the scope of peaceful demonstrations. They blocked roads, brought public transportation to a stop, disrupted the working of the SAR government, rammed the Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo) building and assaulted police officers with toxic liquid and powder.

They even went as far as biting off one police officer’s finger, smearing family members of police officers online, and beating senior people and pedestrians who refused to take their handbills. Even worse, they started to deface the Chinese national flag and national emblem.

The true motive of these people is to bring about a crisis in Hong Kong and destroy the principle of “one country, two systems”. Such actions have severely broken the law, flagrantly offended national dignity and challenged state sovereignty.

People can easily find the traces of intervention by foreign elements from the beginning of the violence in Hong Kong. They have spread alarmist information, created public fear and blocked the amendment by LegCo of the two ordinances related to fugitive transfers.

They have blindly supported the violent protesters, fueled extreme violence and fanned the flames of chaos. They have distorted the principle of “one country, two systems”, while at the same time smearing the Hong Kong police who have fulfilled their duty while enduring much humiliation.

All these facts reflect their malicious anti-China intentions and desire to mess up Hong Kong. As the situation escalates, more and more Hong Kong people have stood up to criticize the violence and support the SAR government and police in holding the offenders accountable and restoring public order. There will be more to realize the real intentions of these rioters.

 Hong Kong belongs to China. China cares more about Hong Kong’s development and cherishes its stability and prosperity more than anyone else in the world.

The reality of the past 22 years since the return of Hong Kong proves that the principles of “one country, two systems”, “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy, which preserves the advantages of Hong Kong to the maximum and provides the greatest possible flexibility of governance, is the best political arrangement for Hong Kong to maintain long-term prosperity.

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That is why China’s central government has recently affirmed on multiple occasions its steadfast resolution to implement the principle of “one country, two systems”, to support the SAR government led by chief executive Carrie Lam in law-based governance, to support the Hong Kong police in fulfilling their duties in accordance with the law, and to oppose any foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs and any attempt by foreign forces to mess up Hong Kong in collusion with domestic violent forces.

We strongly believe that Hong Kong, the “Pearl of the Orient”, will soon restore social order, maintain prosperity and glow as brightly as ever before.

The writer is Chinese Ambassador to Asean.

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