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.