For the second most-succinct commentary on what is happening in Hong Kong, read Louisa Lim and Ilaria Maria Sala in the Guardian.
The absence of the police during the triad attack on Yuen Long MTR a week ago was a microcosm of the whole Hong Kong government’s de-facto nonexistence as the city has spiraled into unrest over the last couple of months. Even Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her team are not this comatose: the obliviousness and inaction are by design, ordered by the Liaison Office or their superiors in Beijing.
Are Beijing’s officials ordering the local administration to do nothing so they can justify some sort of decisive action – say appointing a new CE, or declaring martial law? Or are they themselves clueless about what to do?
Probably the latter. We should find out this afternoon when the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office holds an unprecedented press conference on the situation here.
China’s official media are carrying ‘color revolution’/foreign-forces alarmism today. If Beijing really believes it, they should put their money where their mouth is and break off diplomatic relations with the US – an obvious response if a foreign power backs an attempt to overthrow your regime. But for some reason they won’t.
Since the CCP can never bow to popular will, the HKMAO spokesmen will presumably deliver a hardline rant about evil violent nonrepresentative separatists damaging Hong Kong’s prosperity and rule of law, and how Beijing fully supports the local authorities. In other words, more dithering inaction except for tougher police tactics against protesters. After this last weekend (here and here) we will soon get fatalities, foreign companies sending delicate expat families to Singapore, and (if we’re really lucky) a sharp decline in tourist arrivals.
The word is that further ahead there will be some limited, symbolic government reshuffling. But it will be aimed more to toss out officials Beijing sees as soft, rather than to enhance policy-making capacity. Amazingly.
They have effectively banned protests. First reject the protest application. Then when a crowd shows up anyway, arrest the person whose application they rejected. Henceforth all assemblies will be illegal.
” If Beijing really believes it, they should put their money where their mouth is and break off diplomatic relations with the US – an obvious response if a foreign power backs an attempt to overthrow your regime. But for some reason they won’t.”
Beijing has probably sussed out that foreign countries are only making concerned noises about human rights for PR purposes. There is too much money at stake for investors to fully abandon Hong Kong. They can afford to crush a few skulls if they felt the need to. They’ll get a sternly-worded letter and then 6 months later it will be back to business as usual.
BTW, what’s Joseph Wan up to these days?
Why do people always mention Hong Kong’s prosperity? There is a whole generation who can’t even dream about owning their own homes, ever. What kind of prosperity is that?
In typical HK Government style, the police have banned all protests almost a week after everyone gave up being the slightest bit interested in what the police have to say about anything.
Their authority was hanging by a tiny thread until they cut that last string themselves with a welding torch of crass and inexplicable stupidity in Yuen Long MTR, cracking heads for no discernible reason.
Now the police have absolutely zero respect, face, trust or authority, just guns, helmets, shields and gas, which might be “OK” in a riot, but in the course of normal duties, zero respect, zero face and zero trust maps straight to zero cooperation and that’s going to be an issue, and probably a fairly long term issue: I’d envision it will take the force 20 years to regain the image it had (if it can at all).
The IFC told the police in no uncertain terms that they were unwelcome troublemakers there last night, and unless they had a warrant they were to get lost, with the security guards behind the IFC management smirking at the riot cops.
Sunday night, if out and about, you could feel the fury, and everyone’s fear, hatred and — most of all — total defiance of the cops. People all around are offering water for free, cling film, telling you to put on masks and put up umbrellas where the CCTV cameras begin, and to watch out for plain clothes cops pretending to be black clothes. The kids looked nervous but utterly determined.
Plod will inevitably get a proper savage beating sometime fairly soon by the protestors— they narrowly avoided one in both Yuen Long and Sheung Wan.
But now I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a pair of plod on the beat get a sound kicking just “because”.
They’re also going to have to park their vans even further down the street when picking up take aways in disguise.
Making protests illegal will do absolutely nothing to reduce their frequency but will give them the paper-thin legal justification to charge at any group of people in black shirts milling around. My guess is that they will next be mining the IP addresses of LIHKG participants so that they can arrest rabble rousers at home for incitement and dishonest use of a computer. It’s hard to tell if this is malevolence or incompetence because their sole strategy seems to be “wait until people get tired of being beaten over the head”.
Sadly for the coppers:
1) LIHKG is flagged in Panama and hosted through cloudflare. Good luck trying to get them to share IP logs.
2) The HK (car)telcos are too damn cheap and mean to have actually implement IPv6 which means most LIHKG users will be sharing an IPv4 with loads of other users on a fairly random basis either through a NAT or as a shared IPv4— and that’s if they’re not also using Tor or a VPN.
Why malevolence OR incompetence?
It seems to me that the Hong Kong Police are both.
That is to say, malevolently incompetent and incompetently malevolent.
@Red Dragon: Seeing as Beijing has gone full “the beatings will continue until morale improves”, good point. They have just ruled out any political solution and put the situation entirely on the police to handle.
“This thing we’ve been doing doesn’t work. I know, we just need to do it more.”
What now? Are they going to arrest a thousand people like Putin?