In recent weeks Hong Kong has seen unprecedented protests in which over one million demonstrators have taken to the streets to protest a controversial extradition bill that would allow the extradition of suspected criminals to Mainland China. On 9 July the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, declared that the bill was ‘dead,’ however some protesters remain concerned that the bill is still on the official agenda and has not been formally withdrawn.
Near the beginning of the protests CSW spoke with a Chinese pastor who explained the main concerns regarding the bill, and what the bill may indicate about the general direction for freedom of religion of belief in Hong Kong.
Over a million people, including many Christians, have peacefully protested in Hong Kong against the proposed extradition bill. What are people’s concerns about the bill?
“People are worried that once the bill is passed, the Mainland government can arbitrarily arrest people in Hong Kong. The rule of law in Hong Kong will be greatly affected and the “one country, two systems” will be destroyed.”
How might the bill affect churches and pastors who work with churches in Mainland China?
“Once the bill is passed, it will be very dangerous for all churches involved in the ministry in the Mainland because they can be charged by the Mainland government and arrested in Hong Kong.
Of course, the Mainland government does not necessarily arrest people on religious charges, but they will arrest people on other crimes, such as economic crimes. But these so-called charges are arbitrarily fabricated by them, with the intention of suppressing religious activities and restricting religious freedom.”
Are there concerns among Christians in Hong Kong about the direction of religious freedom in Hong Kong generally?
“Indeed, many churches are worried that Hong Kong’s religious freedom will be affected, especially by seeing the recent persecution of the Mainland church by the mainland government.
Once the “one country, two systems” is destroyed, the religious freedom of Hong Kong will be difficult to protect.”
What can people outside Hong Kong do to support churches there?
“First of all is to pray for the churches in Hong Kong, the second is to express a statement to support, and the third is to publish relevant articles to analyse how to face the current situation, and similar situations encountered in the history of the church, to give some practical advice to the churches in Hong Kong.”