Hong Kong Throngs as Beijing Retreats

A quarter of the city’s population protested for freedom Sunday.
The Wall Street Journal
Date: June 16, 2019
By: Jillian Kay Melchior

Protesters march in Hong Kong, June 16. PHOTO: VINCENT YU/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Hong Kong

Nathan Law, 25, was the youngest person ever elected to Hong Kong Legislative Council. For his pro-democracy activism, he’s faced jail, tear gas and rubber bullets. He’s certainly on Beijing’s enemies list. In an interview he confided his deepest fear. “To be very honest,” he told me Thursday, “I’m most afraid Hong Kong people will not care anymore.” It’s increasingly clear that Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to subsume the small city-state, and there didn’t seem to be much Hong Kong people could do to stop it. Mr. Law said he was afraid “about Hong Kong people becoming cynical, full of apathy, or they just won’t care.”

Yet on Sunday, a crowd estimated at nearly two million—roughly a quarter of the city’s population—marched from Victoria Park to the Legislative Council building to take a stand for Hong Kong’s autonomy. They stretched as far I could see in either direction, spilling into parallel streets. It was the third mass protest in eight days. After the first two, the resolve of China and Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing officials appeared to waver.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam had been pushing legislation that would authorize the city to extradite criminal suspects to the mainland—“the legalized kidnapping of HK people to China,” as one protester’s poster described it. Foreigners would also be in peril.

But amid the public backlash, Ms. Lam announced Saturday that she would indefinitely suspend the legislation. On Sunday she issued a statement that “the chief executive apologizes to the public” for “causing disappointment and grief among the people.” She said there is “no timetable” for picking the bill back up.    [FULL  STORY]