The confrontation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HK SAR) between pro and anti-government forces is still raging with no clear end in sight. Protestors’ immediate demand that the extradition bill that ignited protests on 9 June be withdrawn from the legislative process was met on 23 October 2019, yet those anti-government forces in the HK SAR refuse to cease their protest activities or even agree to return to peaceful protest. Hong Kong has been in a state of civil and financial turmoil for seven months and the results have been detrimental to the city’s growth and future.
Those rioting in the streets and their superiors equally know that there is no chance for them to present a serious opposition to Beijing and it seems that their only real objective now is to spread chaos and fear. What many considered a democratic uprising with pure intentions at the outset has devolved into a nonsensical and futile exercise in flaunting authority.
“One Country, Two Systems” and the Basic Law in Hong Kong were always meant to be and outright stated to be temporary provisions that would come to an end in the year 2047 (50 years after the 1997 British handover). While it may be argued that the Communist Party on the mainland has not fully lived up to its promises and assurances, there was never the possibility of independence for the enclave.
To believe in this possibility is unrealistic and to attempt to persuade others is foolhardy and dangerous as seen in recent months.
Whether or not you stand with the central government or the protestors, there can be no denying that the situation has spiraled out of control and that the protestors have gone too far. It should be noted that I lived in mainland China for 2 years and traveled to Hong Kong at least every 60 days. In addition, I visited the HK SAR during the widespread escalation of belligerence seen in November 2019.
For three days and two nights, i watched the much admired and celebrated protestors tear apart the city. Stones from sidewalks and walkaways were torn up and placed in the road in incessant attempts to fortify makeshift roadblocks or to hurl at police forces. Fires were set and shops vandalized. All of this in the name of democracy and freedom. Continually viewed through tear gas irritated eyes and considered the worst behavior throughout the entire experience, was the harassment of those just trying to live their lives and go about their daily business.
These people (including elderly men and women, and children) would try their best to dismantle the roadblocks and clear the trash from the streets and in doing so, attract the ire of the ones who dumped it there. Physical assaults and verbal threats were extremely commonplace.
Fast-forward to January and the insanity has only increased. Anti-government forces have taken yet another shot at the local economy by splitting businesses and their products and services into “blue” and “yellow” camps. Blue represents the government and their supporters. Not content with outright destruction, now they seek to alienate and intimidate merchants who do not share their views. Statements about democracy from anti-government forces cannot be taken seriously anymore as they have shown their brand of democracy: you’re either with us or against us.