This was the weekend of cops invading multiple shopping malls, marching dozens of young arrestees onto buses, stepping up obnoxiousness towards the media and still finding time for some average-scale rampaging around unwelcoming neighbourhoods, though managing to be absent during a pro-Beijing wacko’s ear-biting and stabbing attack. (Badiucao art work on the ear…)
One relatively minor neighbourhood incursion was in my own, when a platoon of paramilitaries with bright lights, gas masks and pump-action shotguns came galumphing along Hollywood Road in a haze of tear smoke. They gruffly demanded that bystanders ‘go away’ (a few retreated a whole 20 feet up the hill outside Marks & Spencers), then proceeded to probe the exotic and mysterious Mid-Levels Escalator for protesters. The dreaded cockroach menace had in fact swarmed down the street 15 minutes earlier and vanished – a couple of them had nonchalantly taken the adjacent table in the restaurant where I had just had dinner.
The Hong Kong Police continue to ramp up their repression-of-everything-everywhere, semi-curfew tactics. The force is presumably under pressure from Chinese public-security advisors somewhere up the chain of command, who are impatiently demanding that the protests be suppressed with whatever ruthlessness it takes. After all, it works on the Mainland, right? The harder the cops try, the angrier the public gets – and so the cycle goes on.
One distinctly possible next step will be to place greater restrictions on media coverage of protests and, particularly, police action. The Mainland advisors must be aghast at how the press here can record and disseminate almost everything the cops do – feeding public alienation and handicapping the authorities in their battle to assert control.
This cycle of repression-resistance-more repression is a microcosm of Beijing’s whole years-long approach to Hong Kong: try forcing the city to conform and obey – and when it rebels, try doing it again, but harder.
In its recent post-Plenum communique, the CCP outlined its intention to do just this. In brief, by ensuring that: Hong Kong’s future leaders are overtly pro-Beijing, the civil service serves the government’s political ends, the legal and law enforcement systems protect the state rather than the people, and schools deliver lots of lovely ‘patriotic’ education. More of which later.