Inside the Hong Kong Protests
The Communist Party of China would like the mainland Chinese population and the rest of the world to believe that the ongoing, sometimes violent protests in Hong Kong pose a threat of "terrorism." But the truth is that China has only itself to blame for pushing the city's idealistic youth into the streets once again.
HONG KONG – Whether it happens now or in 28 years, when the “one country, two systems” framework is set to expire, millions of people in Hong Kong want to stave off the inevitable: the city’s forced integration into mainland China. And yet there are deep divisions within Hong Kong about how to prevent that outcome. On one side are those, like Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, who would prefer to reach some kind of settlement with the Chinese government; on the other are those who have taken to the streets this summer. Each side believes it has grounds to tar the other as traitors.
For her part, Lam is a known quantity: the model imperial governor who wants to do right by the people, but who ultimately must do as she is told by those who appointed her. The young protesters, however, represent something unique. Earlier this month, I was among them during two of the most intense episodes thus far – on August 11, when the police wounded a young woman in the eye, and more recently, when masked protesters occupied Hong Kong’s airport for two days in the face of police brutality.
At first blush, the demonstrators seem to be in a situation similar to that of Ukraine’s Maidan protesters five years ago. Both episodes involve a “province in revolt” and a larger neighbor with the power to overwhelm the demonstrations by force. And in both cases, the government of the larger power hired the local lumpenproletariat and various criminal elements to attack the protesters.