Christine Loh makes an impassioned/cliched/snore-inducing plea for moderation, dialogue and reconciliation. Lots of mild and reasonable pro-establishment types make this sort of argument, and when radical protesters vandalize MTR stations many sensitive middle-ground folk might find it appealing.
But it denies the power dynamic of the situation.
This is not a disagreement between two parties of equal standing (as in a contractual dispute). This is a conflict in which one side (the government/Beijing) holds all the power, and the other side (the people/anti-government movement) has none.
Indeed, that imbalance is the root cause of the problem. It is also deliberate: the government has not only resisted giving the people more input, but has systematically worked to exclude them (through disqualifications and the dismantling of upward feedback channels and opinion surveys).
There are no grounds for ‘negotiation’. The ‘both sides must make concessions’ line is meaningless. The onus is on the side that holds all the power (with which, remember, goes ‘responsibility’) to change things. The side with no power, by definition, cannot make changes. (Similarly, it is the job of the government to win the confidence of the people, not the other way round.)
Most people intuitively get this. So why are relatively moderate pro-establishment figures indulging in hand-wringing lovey-dovey mutual-respect bringing-two-sides-together BS?
Some of these people are deluded, and others cannot conceive of institutional reform and representative government anyway. But those who have the intellect to do so (like Loh) don’t dare talk of it, because that directly contradicts Beijing’s public position on what is happening in Hong Kong.
Back in June, the first massive street demonstrations jolted Chief Executive Carrie Lam into admitting that the government had lost touch with public opinion and needed to listen. Since then, that line has shifted: the focus is far more on ‘ending the violence’ and supporting counterproductive Police/MTR measures against protesters – with a dash of ‘both sides’ having a responsibility to ‘come together’ as a sweetener.
This reflects Beijing’s insistence that Hong Kong’s unrest does not reflect broad-based opposition to the government, but is the work of a small number of foreign-backed extremists. That narrative was originally designed to keep domestic opinion on the CCP’s side. It is now being disseminated worldwide by Beijing’s highly persuasive mouth-frothing diplomats and official media.
Hong Kong’s more rational and perceptive establishment figures are now essentially forbidden to publicly acknowledge the extent of the protest movement, let alone its causes. They are probably under pressure to sound deranged (like Fanny Law) and peddle conspiracy theories about ‘comfort girls’ or CIA backing. Bleating about dialogue and reconciliation is almost rebellious and edgy, and the nearest they can get to having credibility (other than having a conscience and telling the truth haha).
This does not bode well. How can you solve a problem when you’re not even allowed to accurately define it?