Emily Lau Discusses a Controversial Bill in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong today, violence erupted between police and people protesting the government’s plan to push forward a controversial bill that would allow extraditions to China—a change that could pose human rights risks and jeopardize the U.S. and Hong Kong’s current financial relationship. Emily Lau, former chair of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party and opposer of the bill, joins the program.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Is it a surprise that the people reacted in this way to this bill, which after all has been under discussion for the last couple of decades?

EMILY LAU, FORMER CHAIR. HONG KONG DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, not the bill, Christiane. The question of having a comprehensive arrangement for rendition, sending fugitives to mainland China, has been under discussion for more than 20 years and of course got nowhere. And the reason, the main reason is that Hong Kong and mainland China have two very different legal systems, and we cannot guarantee, and nobody can guarantee, that anyone sent to mainland China would get a fair trial because what they have there is complete lawlessness. It’s whatever the Communist Party says. So, after 20-odd years, we couldn’t get anywhere. And suddenly, the chief executive, Carrie Lam, thinks that because of the homicide case in Taiwan, this couple that went there, the man killed the woman, he came back and we don’t have any extradition arrangement with Taiwan. So, she thinks that, “Wow, we can solve the Taiwan case as well as mainland China in just a few months.” I mean, she’s out of her mind. And one thing is, she has completely underestimated the Hong Kong people’s phobia, the fear of the communists. And that’s why you see the reactions. A million people marching and then thousands of people today fighting in (INAUDIBLE).

AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you about the police reaction. As you know, the police dispute the figures, it doesn’t matter, there are a huge number of people out on the streets and they are being confronted by some fairly aggressive police tactics, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, the like. Where is this going to lead? I mean, who is giving the police these orders and the police have also said, you know, “You better get off the streets, otherwise it’s going to end up badly for you.”

LAU: Well, of course the orders came from the commissioner of police and then — and came from the chief executive, Carrie Lam. But I can appreciate the administration is very worried that there would be a repeat performance of the Umbrella Movement, the occupation of central, which in 2014, that went on for 79 days. They do not want that to happen, which I can appreciate. But if you have thousands or tens of thousands of people gathered there, I mean, okay, you may send 500,000 policemen. Are you really going to clear them? So, we need a political solution, not sending out policemen to beat them up with tear gas and rubber bullets. It’s completely wrong. And why?

About This Episode EXPAND

Emily Lau joins the program to discuss a controversial bill being pushed forward in Hong Kong. Eliot Higgins and Christiaan Triebert discuss the new documentary “Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World.” Former catholic priest James Caroll explains why priesthood should be abolished.