Revolution on a short leash: Student Protesters are Walking a Tightrope in Hong Kong

By Dave Lindorff

It’s hard to know what to think about the student protests in Hong Kong.

On the one hand they are incredibly inspiring.  The courage, determination, brilliant organizing in the face of corporate blocking of the social media platforms that have been so  critical early on to coordinating actions and rallying support, and the links that these masses of students have been able build with the broader Hong Kong community, have been amazing to witness. So to is the massive support that the city’s residents — even its staid usually conservative business-minded bankers and shop owners —  have given and continue to give to this young people’s movement.

On the other hand, there is the hard reality that the students’ very success in standing firm against increasingly violent police repression raises the specter of an eventual Chinese military response that could end what freedom Hong Kong has managed to hang on to since the 1997 handover from colonial Britain to the People’s Republic of China.

The latest attempt by students to occupy the autonomous city’s universities and convert them into fortresses against police attacks, because they were so destructive and militant in nature, featuring as they did the use of bows and arrows (some of them flaming arrows), sling shots and petrol bombs, the tearing up of sidewalks for use in blocking passage on access streets and highways, and the destruction of train stations and toll booths, precisely because they have been so successful at disrupting travel and economic activity in the territory, are inevitably being viewed by the hard-line Communist Party leadership in Beijing as an existential threat to their 70-year rule over China dating back to 1949.

So far the PRC, with its firm grip on news inside the country, thanks to a tightly controlled national “intranet” and state-controlled news media, has succeeded in its efforts to keep information about the uprising inside of Hong Kong away from the broad Chinese public. What news there is in China concerning the disturbances in Hong Kong make it all out to be the result of foreign interference — a tried-and-true way to appeal to a growing Chinese nationalism and to a still widely held sense of a historic wrong suffered by China at the hands of foreign imperial powers.

The Hong Kong students, who have legitimate grievances and are trying their best to prevent what they rightly see as increasing Chinese meddling in Hong Kong local affairs and laws, and as a reneging by Beijing on promises for more local democracy in the city’s governance made in 1997. The lion’s share of political power in Hong Kong, whether under British or Chinese control, has always been kept with the business elite in the city. Student activists need to realize that any dreams they may have of Hong Kong becoming an independent city state like Singapore are futile. China will simply never allow that to happen…


 For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF, who worked as a correspondent for Business Week in Hong Kong in 1992-1997, and is a member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, six-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to:

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