Professor Gerda Wielander, professor of Chinese Studies, was interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live about the Hong Kong protests.
Speaking about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong in a BBC Radio 5 Live interview on 13 August 2019, Professor Gerda Wielander reflected on the events, the UK government’s responsibilities, and what may happen going forward.
Discussing the catalyst of the protests, she said: “It all began with the protest against a proposed bill that would allow suspected criminals to be extradited to mainland China.”
She added that protesters believed that the bill had not really been withdrawn. She said: “There’s a lot of discussion on Twitter, among protesters and commentators about the exact wording that was used when Carrie Lam spoke about the bill.
“The phrase she used implied that it had “died in its sleep” which couldn’t be a starker contrast to what is actually going on in terms of the activities on the ground, and protesters say that it has not been formally withdrawn and could potentially still be revived.”
When asked about the role of the British government in the protests, Professor Wielander said that there had been disagreement about the source of the Basic Law which was put in place when Hong Kong was returned to China. She added: “Depending on what you believe is the source of the Basic Law in Hong Kong might determine what you think the UK Government’s responsibility is in this situation.
“However, generally speaking, the UK government and other democratic governments have a responsibility to look out for what is happening in Hong Kong and make appropriate statements and interventions to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and that appropriate means are adopted in order to deal with this situation.”
Wielander also spoke about potential solutions to the protests, and said that there was intent to isolate and blame small groups of extremists to potentially sway public opinion. She added: “It’s very difficult to see where a resolution will come from.. The way the protests have been handled could be seen as a reflection of the degree to which the Hong Kong government is not free to determine its own actions, for example, there have not really been any conciliatory steps or any offer of negotiation or concessions to protestors. So, it is difficult to see how the situation will be resolved and everybody is watching with great anxiety to see what is going to happen next.”
At the time of writing, the protests in Hong Kong continue.