ucanews.com reporterUpdated: April 29, 2019 09:48 AM GMT
More than 130,000 people protest in Hong Kong on April 28 against the proposed extradition law and call on the Chinese territory’s chief executive Carrie Lam to step down. (Photo supplied)
An estimated 130,000 Hong Kong people demonstrated against a proposed extradition law that would allow people from the former British colony to be sent to mainland China to face trial.
Religious leaders in the Chinese territory are concerned that their mission on the mainland would be affected by the move.
Protesters marched from Causeway Bay to the Legislative Council Building in Admiralty on April 28 in the largest demonstration since the 79-day Occupy Central mass protests in 2014.
The Hong Kong government has proposed an amendment to the extradition ordinance that would allow the government to send fugitives to China and Taiwan to be tried on a case-by-case basis. If it is passed, any fugitive from the law who sets foot in Hong Kong could be tried and imprisoned on the mainland if a request is made and Hong Kong consents.
The move to change the extradition law was triggered by a controversial murder case that occurred in Taiwan in February 2018.
Retired Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun joined a prayer meeting held by the Hong Kong Justice and Peace Commission (HKJPC) before the demonstration started.
Cardinal Zen, 87, told a group of about 100 Catholics that Christian scholar Ying Fuk-tsang, director of the divinity school at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, had noted that if the amendment was passed, Hong Kong churches that keep in touch with mainland churches could easily be found guilty.
Cardinal Zen had earlier pointed out that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) could use the amended law to settle scores and pursue people who used to support mainland churches — for example, by taking unauthorized printed materials to the mainland.
“The CCP does not have to hold real evidence. They can even create fake evidence. The Hong Kong government will eventually transfer so-called fugitives to them,” he said.
A local Catholic who asked not to be named told ucanews.com that there is a saying that the Catholic Church in Hong Kong should be a bridge between China and the Vatican to support the China Church. “However, the amendment will affect the ministry of Catholic and Christian churches towards China,” he said.
The source said Beijing’s charity and religious affairs regulations had already affected the freedom of religious parties on the mainland.
“Once the amendment has passed, many church ministers in Hong Kong may violate those regulations and could be charged. And something even worse is that there is no rule of law in China,” he added.
Lina Chan, executive secretary of the HKJPC, said the religious affairs regulations aim to cut off relations between mainland churches and groups elsewhere.
“It will be harder for the Catholic Church in Hong Kong to support them — they will have to be more careful,” she told ucanews.com.
Chan said the size of the protest showed that Hong Kong citizens do not trust the local government and the CCP. “They fear the unjust judicial system will come to Hong Kong. There is a knife above everyone’s throat,” she said.