Anyone know what is happening in Hong Kong - why the violence?

How can they be so violent in an international airport? How can they wear black masks at the airport? Does anyone have any insight?
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  • Protestors typically wear masks when they are worried about being identified and pursued by authorities or other hostile elements. Which is certainly a real concern in HK. I think it's justified.

    Unfortunately the way they treated the PRC journalist is not justifiable.
  • There's a 'Free HK' thread on page 2 of Purgatory.

    I'm afraid I don't know how to link to it - perhaps a kindly Host could oblige?
  • Most of the violence seems to be coming from the police, who have been masquerading as protestors and otherwise covering badges and numbers so they can't be challenged. Hong Kongers see mainland China, quite rightly, as a threat to their freedoms. Life under colonial rule wasn't perfect, but this is one of the few cases where we can definitively say it's better than the alternative. Hong Kongers can see 2047 looming as well as Chinese attempts to make a lie of "one country two systems". They're literally fighting for their freedom in the one part of China that has ever known it for any length of time.
  • I don't think the PRC really wants to end the "one country, two systems" with regards to Hong Kong. As pointed out here the relative openness of Hong Kong has been crucial to China's global economic expansion. If one way or another Hong Kong loses this status- whether through a full-blown clamp-down, or investors fleeing from protracted instability- it will weaken the PRC's position. That is why the US has an interest in exploiting the protests, encouraging more confrontational tactics, and forcing the PRC to choose between repression or allowing HK to devolve into further unrest.
  • My brother flew home through Honk Kong a week ago back to his home in Taiwan. Nervous he was. He speaks fluent Mandarin. He mentioned the mainland Chinese gov't suppression of Falun Gong / Falun Dafa as instructive. Tens of thousands of people would be unified with this exercise/mindfulness program, meet in city centres. Their unity made the authorities very nervous that people would organize in ways the Chinese gov't hasn't control of. He discussed Hong Kong as experiencing increasing Chinese nervousness of the openness of the society and worried about its influence on China as the younger generation wants more democracy.

    People frequently move through HK to get out of China, that HK by example or by direct efforts of individuals does try to influence China. Note that China views HK and Taiwan as integral parts of China. Also note that the UK when controlling HK had nothing really very democratic going on, and its colonization of China was particularly racist. This is going to be up to the USA to handle if anyone bothers, which has such capable leadership right now. This is not like Iraq invading Kuwait with American ambassador to Iraq at the time (April Glaspie) having given the message of okay to Saddam, and the Americans then invading the country the first time. The Chinese will stay in this "integral" part of China.

    The reasons for paralysing the airport is simple: the international community is not really doing anything, and they want to be disruptive enough to gain attention and, they hope, support. It will end badly. China is calling the protestors terrorists and has suggestsed international influence. This is for home consumption. Much like how Russia handled Donbass and Crimea: nothing will be done. But in China with more deaths and subsequent deportations to the mainland, which was the reason for the protests to start with.
  • The situation is really not comparable to Falun Gong or Russia's interventions in Ukraine. Falun Gong is a weird cult with no popular support; the Hong Kong protestors enjoy the sympathy of much, perhaps most, of the HK population. In the Donbass, Russia has interest in fomenting chaos for Ukraine, which is the opposite of what China wants in Hong Kong.

    If the PRC clamps down on Hong Kong their global economic position will be significantly weakened by the capital flight; if they give in to any of the protestors' demands, they look weak in front of the mainland audience. The PRC will have to come up with a rather creative solution here or it's a lose-lose for them.

  • edited August 14
    The situation is really not comparable to Falun Gong or Russia's interventions in Ukraine. Falun Gong is a weird cult with no popular support; the Hong Kong protestors enjoy the sympathy of much, perhaps most, of the HK population. In the Donbass, Russia has interest in fomenting chaos for Ukraine, which is the opposite of what China wants in Hong Kong.

    If the PRC clamps down on Hong Kong their global economic position will be significantly weakened by the capital flight; if they give in to any of the protestors' demands, they look weak in front of the mainland audience. The PRC will have to come up with a rather creative solution here or it's a lose-lose for them.

    The FG/FD comparison is only that the Chinese gov't suppressed them because they were a group they didn't control. I'm telling you my brother's analysis and what his Chinese friends say.
  • MoyessaMoyessa Shipmate
    ...Note that China views HK ... as integral part of China. Also note that the UK when controlling HK had nothing really very democratic going on, and its colonization of China was particularly racist...
    If not China, what country does control Hong Kong??

  • MoyessaMoyessa Shipmate
    Protestors typically wear masks when they are worried about being identified and pursued by authorities or other hostile elements. Which is certainly a real concern in HK. I think it's justified.

    Is Hong Kong so free of terrorism threat that it is legal to disguise your identity at an international airport??

  • SirPalomidesSirPalomides Shipmate
    edited August 14
    I don't know if it's legal but I would say it's prudent.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Moyessa wrote: »
    How can they be so violent in an international airport? How can they wear black masks at the airport? Does anyone have any insight?

    Most of the photos I've seen have been of medical-style filter masks, a few of which were black but mostly the pale blues and greens typical of such paraphenalia. Is the color important? I mean, I know it can be symbolically important in a "bad guys wear black" way, but I'm not sure that's a real life rule.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    ...It will end badly...

    This.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    NPR had a fairly long discussion on this on the program A1. There were several take-aways. When the Chinese took control, they promised a two system state for 50 years. Now that term is half over so the end event is on the horizon. Second, while we know about HK it appears several other Chinese cities have also seen restlessness among the younger citizens. It is expecting the local authorities to contain the situation, but it has amassed its army outside the city. However, Hong Kong is not going to be like Tiananmen. One cannot contain a hit and run strategy that is being employed by the HK youth. When the events began people were largely concerned about the extradition law which would allow people charged with a crime in China be tried in China even if the action is not criminal in HK. But it has increased quite a bit since then. Now it seems the younger people are using the protests because they find themselves being priced out of the housing market--which is happening worldwide.

    Will the Chinese People's Army invade? I hope not.
  • MarsupialMarsupial Shipmate
    I've been following this because my wife has family in Hong Kong and I've visited Hong Kong about half-a-dozen times in the last 20 years. As Gramps49 says, the PRC agreed to a one state/two systems arrangement for 50 years when HK returned to Chinese rule in 1997. While the PRC has an obvious interest in maintaining HK as a centre of international commerce, they have also been increasingly seeking to wear down the "two systems" concept and bring HK politically into PRC control. This does not bode well for democracy, civil rights, and rule of law values that HK enjoyed to considerable extent by the 1990s and still enjoys to a much greater extent than people do inside the PRC. I sense that HK people who value these things are increasingly feeling the noose tightening and feel the need to do something to push back.

    I don't have a sense of what is motivating the more violent forms of protest or who these people are. But past nonviolent protest has had not had any visible effect on the PRC's pursuit of their agenda so I think it's possible that some people may feel they don't have much to lose by raising the temperature.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, Hell Host
    The protests, overall, are completely justified. The PRC is all about control and forcing its will on the citizenry. There is nothing to which it will not stoop - just ask the victims of Tiananmen, the Falung Gong, and the Uighers. I greatly fear for the people of Hong Kong in general, and for the protesters in particular. This is not going to end well.

  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    The protests, overall, are completely justified. The PRC is all about control and forcing its will on the citizenry. There is nothing to which it will not stoop - just ask the victims of Tiananmen, the Falung Gong, and the Uighers. I greatly fear for the people of Hong Kong in general, and for the protesters in particular. This is not going to end well.
    And Tibet. Don't forget Tibet.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    The protests, overall, are completely justified. The PRC is all about control and forcing its will on the citizenry. There is nothing to which it will not stoop - just ask the victims of Tiananmen, the Falung Gong, and the Uighers. I greatly fear for the people of Hong Kong in general, and for the protesters in particular. This is not going to end well.

    Violent protest in this case is not justified. Understandable, but not justified. Like the Chinese state response will be. Which is inexorable, inevitable and will be completely effective, soon.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    I don't like agreeing with you @Martin54 and I don't totally. Alas, though the reputation and past form of the PRC means that I think your forecast is right.

    Not quite so sure about how completely effective in the long rather than short term though.
  • EirenistEirenist Shipmate
    It looks to me, an ignorant outsider, like a clear instance of the use of agents provocateurs to justify repression. Which, as Martin54 says, lookd like coming very soon.
  • Violence depends on context. I thought that it's legitimate to fight back against Chinese thugs, however, it's also a tactical issue. I mean, do you have a chance to win, or the remote possibility of triggering off protests in Chinese cities. Is another revolution legitimate?
  • EirenistEirenist Shipmate
    And which our government will be able to do nothing about.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    The protests, overall, are completely justified. The PRC is all about control and forcing its will on the citizenry. There is nothing to which it will not stoop - just ask the victims of Tiananmen, the Falung Gong, and the Uighers. I greatly fear for the people of Hong Kong in general, and for the protesters in particular. This is not going to end well.
    And Tibet. Don't forget Tibet.

    Yes, exactly, to you and Rossweisse also.
  • Actually, the criterion of being able to win is shaky in relation to violence. (I think just war theory generally includes a reasonable prospect of winning). There were were various uprisings against the Nazis, which were probably doomed, but boy, I'd rather go down fighting. Against that, the risk of reprisals has to be reckoned.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Violence depends on context. I thought that it's legitimate to fight back against Chinese thugs, however, it's also a tactical issue. I mean, do you have a chance to win, or the remote possibility of triggering off protests in Chinese cities. Is another revolution legitimate?

    Yes. No. Yes. No. No. No.
  • Martin54 wrote: »
    Violence depends on context. I thought that it's legitimate to fight back against Chinese thugs, however, it's also a tactical issue. I mean, do you have a chance to win, or the remote possibility of triggering off protests in Chinese cities. Is another revolution legitimate?

    Yes. No. Yes. No. No. No.

    Thank you for that copious and reasoned argument. As you can appreciate, it will take me some time to work through it.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    I don't like agreeing with you @Martin54 and I don't totally. Alas, though the reputation and past form of the PRC means that I think your forecast is right.

    Not quite so sure about how completely effective in the long rather than short term though.

    The state monopoly of institutionalized violence works most effectively even continuously beyond usually violent changes of state. Even in social democratic minority states, it's always waiting in the shadows. As it was in Spain against the Catalans (who did violence to the Spanish constitution). Violence in all its forms is completely effective in dominating and emanating from virtually all groups. All humans.

    Jesus' answer was non-violent (except to some cattle, twice and a fig tree). Subversive. Counter-cultural. Inclusive. Orthogonal to, above oppression-insurrection. Didn't break any bruised reeds or quench any smoking flaxes. Exemplary. Civil. Emulated by Ghandi even in pushing the boat out a little, Ghandi stopped the trains; and then best of all by MLK. Boycotts are brilliant. Strikes less so.
  • You could have tried that argument with the people in the Treblinka uprising, I wonder what they would have said.
  • If the PRC does a Tiananmen style repression then it would be a major defeat for them, and from the US perspective to protests would achieve their purpose. The protestors are straw dogs.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    You could have tried that argument with the people in the Treblinka uprising, I wonder what they would have said.

    Why would I have done something as inane, stupid and inappropriate as that? All hope was lost, all bets were off. I'd have been stabbing fucking Nazis in the eyes with my spoon until they shot me I hope.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    If the PRC does a Tiananmen style repression then it would be a major defeat for them, and from the US perspective to protests would achieve their purpose. The protestors are straw dogs.

    Like Tiananmen it will be an overwhelming victory for the PRC. Taiwan next. And the negative consequences to the PRC for that impunity will be what?
  • Without HK’s open market the PRC will have to rely on Singapore or another country it doesn’t control. That would be a major blow.
  • And the failure of the Hong Kong experiment will put Taiwan infinitely beyond their grasp.
  • Martin54 wrote: »
    You could have tried that argument with the people in the Treblinka uprising, I wonder what they would have said.

    Why would I have done something as inane, stupid and inappropriate as that? All hope was lost, all bets were off. I'd have been stabbing fucking Nazis in the eyes with my spoon until they shot me I hope.

    Well, the point is that the use of violence is hedged about with conditions, as in just war theory. You seem to be saying that violence is OK, in extremis. Presumably, Hong Kong is not in extremis.
  • Hong Kong is definitely not comparable to a Nazi death camp.
  • Hong Kong is definitely not comparable to a Nazi death camp.

    Yes, but these conditions are not black and white, are they? Treblinka poses the ultimate test for the pacifist, but then there is a gradation of intolerable conditions. Another famous example is Ulster. Was it OK to fight back against rampaging B-specials? In a way, the question is obscene, as I'm not in that place.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    You could have tried that argument with the people in the Treblinka uprising, I wonder what they would have said.

    Why would I have done something as inane, stupid and inappropriate as that? All hope was lost, all bets were off. I'd have been stabbing fucking Nazis in the eyes with my spoon until they shot me I hope.

    Well, the point is that the use of violence is hedged about with conditions, as in just war theory. You seem to be saying that violence is OK, in extremis. Presumably, Hong Kong is not in extremis.

    It's nowhere near apart from the extremis it's putting itself futilely in to. And no it's never 'OK'. I hope I wouldn't hesitate in defense of mine and me. I would bite anyone's throat out if they threatened my grandson, wife, daughter and get therapy for it if I survived. Teeth are very handy. Believe me. Defense of the vulnerable would easily go that way. At Triangle I've never had to say, "Men, on me, chairs!", yet. Anyone gets a knife out, that's what'll happen.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Without HK’s open market the PRC will have to rely on Singapore or another country it doesn’t control. That would be a major blow.

    Nothing will interrupt commerce. Even the weekend demonstrators have had more sense up until now.
  • Plenty of commerce is already interrupted and if the PRC can’t rely on Hong Kong for access to global markets that is a serious damper for their growth.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    The PLA, MPS, MSS and the Triads will sort that out no problem. Do they still send the bill for the bullet?
  • Um, no, this is not a problem with a military solution.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Of course it is. Along with every other part of the state apparatus. If it comes to it. So put the PLA at the end of the list.
  • None of that will bring all the fleeing capital back to Hong Kong. Put the bottle down.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    It's empty. Do the weekend demonstrators want to have i-Phones or not?
  • A lot of them want affordable housing... that’s something the PRC might have addressed effectively to deflate the protests but it’s probably too late for that now.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    No UK government has been able to do that since Thatcher. How could the PRC?
  • SirPalomidesSirPalomides Shipmate
    edited August 15
    They can throw money where they see fit. It’s one of the perks of having a command economy on the mainland.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    So they can command the supply of cheap housing on HK? With the 4th highest population density on Earth?
  • The most populous country and 2nd largest economy in the world can put a very big dent in it, yes.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Why would they do that?
  • Because housing affordability is a major grievance for young people.

    Also, while HK seems quite small it has a fair amount of open land in the new territories. For decades the HK government, in collusion with real estate tycoons, has restricted development and artificially inflated the price of real estate. This situation emerged from the British colonial system and was left in place in 1997.

    Right after the handover the first PRC governor of Hong Kong actually tried to tackle this problem and build a lot of public housing but the 1998 financial crisis hit and scuppered that. The tycoons tightened their grip even further since then.

    But the problem is not insurmountable.
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