Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing politicians and media drool with glee this morning, while pro-democrats and Occupy Central activists squirm in discomfort. After 53 days of non-violent civil disobedience, someone broke a couple of windows. It’s the Great Legislative Council Door Massacre of 2014 – an orgy of wanton savagery and carnage, Hong Kong-style, and a gift to establishment forces determined to portray the students and protestors as blood-crazed CIA-backed psychopaths and enemies of the people.
The details are hard to get excited about. Some of the most impatient and radical elements in the leaderless Umbrella/Occupy movement were gripped by (or spread) rumours of imminent introduction of a proposed (and nonsensical-sounding) law on Internet copyright that could criminalize (more likely, provoke tons of) parody. Mysterious masked men seized bricks and metal barriers and attacked a couple of innocent and defenceless Legco building doors. Mild-mannered campaigners for democracy, freedom and justice reel in horror, imagining government agents provocateurs as the only reasonable explanation. Odious pro-Beijing lawmakers act outraged and taunt their opponents, who desperately rush to condemn the violence. The cops arrest half a dozen guys.
Thus Occupy Central – this particular bout of sit-ins by kids in tents on streets – pretty much, you would think, jumps the shark. Observers maintaining for the 50th straight day that now is the time for the protestors to go home may finally be right. Gloating officials and pro-establishment figures feel confident quietly suggesting that the recent bailiff-led action to clear a small portion of occupied Admiralty is just a test and just the start.
Admiralty is full of middle-class school kids who will soon start feeling the cold. Their maids will be coming down the hill to wrap them up in woolen scarves and march them home for warm milk and cookies. The challenge for the authorities is over the harbour. Comedian Chris Rock once mocked the George W Bush administration’s hubris after toppling the Iraqi regime in two weeks by daring them to try taking Baltimore in that time. In our case, that would be Mongkok. ‘Gritty’ Mongkok, as the overseas press calls it. Or, as you can’t help noticing on passing the third Chow Sang Sang in 75 yards, ‘awful-lot-of-windows Mongkok’.