Experts Weigh In on the Hong Kong Extradition Bill

Today Simone Gao from “Zooming In” asks two experts to weigh in on the controversial Hong Kong extradition bill.

Today’s Guests:

  • Frank Gaffney is Vice Chairman of the Committee on Present Danger: China.
  • General Robert Spalding is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and was a China policy adviser to the Trump administration.

Hong Kong Protests

Nearly two million Hongkongers took to the streets Sunday to protest a controversial extradition bill. The June 16th protest was the largest in Hong Kong’s history. Over a quarter of the city’s population took part in the protests.

The extradition bill would allow mainland China to seek extradition of suspects. It is broadly opposed within Hong Kong society. Many fear it would allow the Chinese regime to unlawfully charge and extradite people without consequence.

Hong Kong Extradition Law
Tens of thousands of protesters carry posters and banners march through the streets as they continue to protest an extradition bill, Sunday, June 16, 2019, in Hong Kong. Hong Kong residents Sunday continued their massive protest over an unpopular extradition bill that has highlighted the territory’s apprehension about relations with mainland China, a week after the crisis brought as many as 1 million into the streets. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung/Courtesy SOH)

Frank Gaffney’s Interview

What do you think Hong Kong will become if they pass this?

Frank Gaffney: I was in Hong Kong in 1997 for the surrender, and I must tell you it was one of the most depressing moments of my life because it was perfectly obvious what would happen eventually. I went there because I thought it would be an historic moment. I wanted to be there to express solidarity with the people of Hong Kong who were being essentially surrendered to the communist Chinese. It was palpable, the feeling there of the impending doom of Hong Kong as it had come to be in the end, at least of the colonial period under Britain: prosperous, for sure, but also free.

And so I anticipated then sort of what we’re seeing play out now. So it’s not a surprise to me. But it is shocking just the same. We’ve seen really so little pushback on the Chinese for this up to this point other than by the people of Hong Kong. — Frank Gaffney

Impact on U.S.-China Relations

How would it affect U.S.-China relations if that law passed?

Frank Gaffney: If the United States responds as it should to this attack on what’s left of Hong Kong’s autonomy, I think it would further demonstrate that it’s no longer the case that China can do whatever it wants. It can no longer disregard its agreements with us, it can no longer act in a manner that is bullying of its own people and neighbors and our interests without there being real costs. And that seems to me to be something that it’s past time to begin demonstrating to the Chinese. So in this regard it would be an important and, I think, necessary step.

Hong Kong’s Last Chance

I just feel this might be the last chance for Hong Kong. Do you feel that way?

Frank Gaffney: Yes, as I said, I felt that the crushing of Hong Kong was always China’s plan…I think this is interesting because it’s coming about in the context of what Xi Jinping is doing more generally. Some say he’s overplayed his hand or has simply shown his hand sooner than he should have.

A lot of people, and not just on both sides of the political aisle in this country, but around the world are now realizing that Xi Jinping aspires to be the empire of the world and to force everyone, willingly or unwillingly, to submit to his dicta. That is beginning to create resistance. That resistance should be expressed most immediately on what’s really the front line of this struggle. And that’s in Hong Kong at the moment, which will almost surely be Taiwan next, perhaps the Philippines, who knows? It’s not going to stop with Hong Kong, that’s for sure. — Frank Gaffney

Mourners stop by a makeshift memorial, to lay flowers and pray for a man who fell to his death on Saturday after hanging a protest banner against an extradition bill in Hong Kong Sunday, June 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung/courtesy SOH)

General Robert Spalding’s Interview

Do you think Hong Kong could be the fuse that lights the fire that could burn down the Chinese communist regime?

General Spalding: I think the fuse has already been lit. It really has to do with the way the Chinese Communist Party uses their system of economic, financial and informational control to essentially erode freedoms, not just in China, but also outside of China. And I think that behavior, that method of using globalization and the Internet, has awakened in the West a realization that through our daily interactions with the Chinese Communist Party, not only are we contributing to really the economic demise of many Americans here in the United States, but also a slow erosion of our own freedoms.

U.S.-China Trade

In terms of the U.S.-China trade war, if this extradition law was passed, what will happen to Hong Kong, and what will happen to U.S.-China trade now?

General Spalding: I don’t know specifically what might happen, but if that special relationship is taken away from Hong Kong, it will be extremely damaging for the Hong Kong economy, but also for the Chinese economy because it, again, it relies on Hong Kong as a window to the West. That promise, really by the Chinese Communist Party, to have and to honor one country, two systems is what we’re talking about.

The Chinese Communist Party makes a lot of promises and has gone back on nearly all them. So it’s not surprising that they would change their behavior with regard to Hong Kong. But the problem is, is if we look the other way, then we essentially sanction the things that they do that are counter to our own principles. — General Spalding

U.S. Support for Hong Kong

Do you think the American government will stand solidly with the Hongkongers and support them?

General Spalding: I believe they will. I believe that Secretary Pompeo has already made a statement, I believe. I think that you’re going to see, not just from the administration, but also the Congress and people, not just in America, in democracies everywhere, when they see the peaceful people of Hong Kong subjected to essentially the same rules that are applied to the people in mainland China, I think this is just going to be beyond the pale for democracies everywhere.

The Chinese Communist Party has been able to hide most of what they do because of how they organize their society within mainland China. It’s very difficult right now for them to hide what they’re doing to Hong Kong because they still have some semblance of freedoms with free press. So what’s going on now is going to be quite visible to the world. And so I don’t think the world is gonna look away if we have another Tiananmen Square. — General Spalding

Press play to listen. What do you think about China’s push to pass the extradition law in Hong Kong? Let us know in the comments below.