As the situation in Hong Kong becomes more serious the focus is on university students. They provide the energy and ingenuity for the campaign but the unexplained element is their violence.
So far one of their five demands has been met, the extradition treaty with the mainland has been scrapped. The second (resignation of the Chief Secretary) is possible (she probably wants to resign anyhow), as is release of those arrested. However the other demands (independent enquiry into police brutality as well as greater democratic freedom) are not so simple as the enquiry would bring up Beijing’s involvement in policing and the plan is to bring Hong Kong closer to mainland laws, not to make it more independent.
Since at least two of their demands won’t be granted, why do the students continue?
It could be that they are making a point: in the future Beijing will be more careful and slow down its plans to integrated Hong Kong fully into the mainland’s system.
When I was there recently I noticed that the word ‘revolt’ was appearing more in the slogans plastered on walls. Previously the demand was for greater self-governing, a non-threatening desire most of the population would share.
The spirit of Tianmen Square is in the air but the outcome could be much the same, it has not changed China much. Some believe that real change comes only after a violent clash between two dominant social groups though that has never provided a long term solution.
The situation in Hong Kong is coming to a head and another section of the people, who sympathise with the students but not their methods, is waiting on the side-lines to see how it will affect them. More about them next time.
Photos: 1. Calls to revolt. 2. The peaceful Hong Kong tourist knew.