Glory be to thee Hong Kong
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - September 15, 2019 - 12:00am

Even if I believe that sooner or later China will suppress the Hong Kong Revolution, I cannot help but admire the idealism and resoluteness of the Hong Kong people in their movement to preserve democracy and the rule of law in Hong Kong. Every time I am told that this is the work of a few “radical students,” I simply point to the televised coverage showing more than a million Hong Kongers representing a cross section of   its population marching in solidarity – a few thousands marching in coat and tie composed primarily of people from the legal profession. Then there was another scene which resembled more a procession because its participants were the Christian communities carrying large crosses. 

One touching scene for me was one where an elderly woman without a helmet and gas mask was trying to get to the front and youngsters pleading with her to go  back to the rear because she was not properly equipped. She then replied that she wanted to go to the front because she felt that if the police saw her and her age, they would stop being violent. The young people told her that her age would not prevent the police from being violent. They then physically forced her to go back and told her to let the young people be the ones to go to the front lines. 

The whole protest movement started as a protest against the proposed extradition bill that would allow the mainland to require Hong Kong residents to be extradited. After three months of rallies and protests, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam came out with a statement withdrawing  the bill hoping this will calm the crisis. It has been concluded by several analysts that the real author of the proposed bill was Xi Jinping who seems to have miscalculated and underestimated the resistance of the people. Xi’s second miscalculation , it is said, that he again underestimated the depth of the resistance and expected that after a while the movement would lose steam and die down.

The protest movement now has five demands: withdrawal of the extradition bill, amnesty for detainees, independent inquiry into police violence, retraction of Carrie Lam’s definition of the protests as a “riot,” and the implementation of universal suffrage. So granting one out of five demands was not sufficient to satisfy the protest movement. The effort to subdue demonstration with withdrawing the extradition bill is considered “too little too late.”

According to Zhixing Zhang, a Southeast Asia analyst:

“The extradition bill was the least sensitive of the protesters’ demands, meaning Lam could have appeased more moderate demonstrators if she had formally withdrawn the bill sooner. But the subsequent escalation between the protesters and police as well as the government’s perceived ineptness at handling the situation, has greatly raised the stakes, making a possible settlement a much dimmer prospect. Indeed, the fact that Lam’s government has refused to accede to the demand for an independent inquiry – a plea that has wide public support – out of fears of hurting police morale means that her efforts are unlikely to appease many in the movement, let alone the more radical protesters. Indeed the decision has drawn sharp criticism from some student protesters, who described it as smokescreen...the chances that it will offer additional concessions are less and less likely, making continued escalation likely in the weeks ahead, particularly as the symbolic day of Oct. 1, China’s National Day approaches.”

Even if some calm is restored to the city and Beijing’s military intervention is avoided, there are some political and socio-economic grievances that have been brought to the surface by the protests.

In the rallies, there are many signs proclaiming “We are Hong Kong Not China.” Three weeks ago the protest movement came out with their own anthem: “Glory be to thee Hong Kong.” In a recent football game between Hong Kong and Iran, the stadium full of Hong Kongers started booing when the national anthem of China was played. The crowd then started singing their own Hong Kong anthem. One major fear of its people is Beijing will vigorously seek to integrate the territory via economic and political means which will erode local autonomy in the process. Many fear that the central government will abandon the “one country, two systems”, framework before the scheduled date of 2047, transforming Hong Kong into just another Chinese city. 

The think tank Stratfor also said: “In addition to heightening fears about Beijing’s intentions, the central government’s creeping influence has also incited antagonism against new arrivals from the mainland – whom many locals blame for threatening the city’s core values and contributing to Hong Kong’s soaring property prices and rising inequality... Simply put, the democratic goals of Hong Kong’s leaderless protest movement threaten Beijing’s very control over the territory, leaving little room for compromise and de-escalation.”

For Beijing, the best case scenario is that the protests will eventually die down. The more realistic scenario is that the protests may temporarily die down but will flare up again because Beijing will not be able to address the political and economic grievances of Hong Kongers. 

The most probable scenario is that Beijing will initiate a crackdown using police and military means to suppress the protest movement and bring to an end the Hong Kong that we know. 

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Adult class on writing poetry with Gemino Abad on Sept. 28, 1:30-4:30 pm. At Fully Booked BGC. For details and registration,  email writethingsph@gmail.com.

*      *      *

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com.

CHINA DEMOCRACY HONG KONG
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Recommended
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with