Thursday, July 25, 2019

HK Protest 2019 - Reverberations

[Hong Kongers have been protesting a proposed Extradition Bill, that when passed (into law) would allow HKers to be extradited to China. Here is a perspective of the earlier protests (link), the future of HK, and the long-term reality.

It was an exercise in futility except for (IMHO) growing frustration, panicked realisation, and hopelessness. 

Although the HK government has backed down, and suspended the passage of the bill, people with knowledge of the legislative process have pointed out that it is NOT legislatively dead. Merely postponed. The bill has simply been retracted the request for the Legislative Council to resume the second reading.

A bill needs to have 3 readings before passage into law. The bill as it is now has only had the first reading. But if things were as in Singapore, the Second and Third Reading can usually be passed within the same day. As such, the Extradition Bill can be passed easily. All it needs is for 12 days notice for the resumption of the second reading.

Unless it is legislatively "killed" - voted down in the second and third reading, formally withdrawn, or the term of the council expires before the bill is passed. 

The frustration and hopelessness may be engendered by the realisation that it is all futile. From the previous link
The reality is that HK has been handed over to China in 1997, and even if the Chinese Govt keeps to the promise of not interfering in HK for 50 years, 2047 is only 28 years away, and the Chinese government plays the long game.
HK has no leverage. Beijing can simply wait 28 years. They are in no hurry. Meanwhile, panicked realisation.

Also, the HK Police has been sorely stressed and pressured. Even as protests continued (because, bill not "dead".) And then, gangsters attacked protesters returning from a march. How do we know these are gangsters? The police said so.

And comments that the protesters battled police in the past weeks only to call on the police for help when they are set upon by thugs, and so are hypocrites who want their cake and eat it too. Anyway, these are the... reverberations from the protests.] 

Hong Kong anti-government protesters warned of risk of further violence in Yuen Long

South China Morning Post
As public anger continued to boil over the attacks, there were calls online for a protest on Wednesday morning against the MTR, with many blaming the railway operator for failing to protect passengers that night.

24 July, 2019

HONG KONG — Anti-government protesters planning a mass rally in Hong Kong’s northern town of Yuen Long this weekend to condemn last Sunday’s (July 21) vicious attacks on train passengers by a rampaging mob have been cautioned over the risk of further violence, with one pro-establishment lawmaker from the district warning of dire consequences if participants heed online calls to damage village properties.

Saturday’s planned protest was already causing concern on Tuesday as two local residents submitted an application to police for the march to the site of the attacks. About 100 men in white T-shirts assaulted anyone they came across at the MTR station with sticks and metal rods, leaving 45 people injured.

While it was business as usual in Yuen Long on Tuesday, after it was transformed into a ghost town the previous day, rumours were rife online about the possibility of further violence, contributing to an atmosphere of fear in anticipation of the weekend.

The Education University and the University of Hong Kong offered to help students in need, including hostel accommodations, if they were afraid of returning home to Yuen Long.

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said his bureau would also offer advice to schools in Yuen Long concerning their summer activities, with parents worried about their possible exposure to further violence.

Police, who have been heavily criticised for turning up too late to stop Sunday night’s mayhem, arrested five more suspects on Tuesday, raising the total to 11. Police sources said that 10 of the attackers had fled the city.

As public anger continued to boil over the attacks, there were calls online for a protest on Wednesday morning against the MTR, with many blaming the railway operator for failing to protect passengers that night.

Some set up a Lennon Wall at a bus terminal under the Yuen Long MTR station, posting messages urging the railway company to bear responsibility and saying “no terrorism”.

The fallout from the attacks also claimed an unlikely casualty on Tuesday – veteran journalist Arthur Shek Kang-chuen quit the Hong Kong Economic Times newspaper group he co-founded over remarks he made at a pro-government rally last weekend that protesters should be caned like undisciplined children.

One of those planning the coming Saturday march, Tuen Mun resident Michael Mo Kwan-tai, said he had applied for approval to start near the Yuen Long police station and end about 1.4km away at the MTR station.

Apart from the regular demands of the anti-extradition movement for a complete withdrawal of the bill that would allow the transfer of fugitives to mainland China and for an independent inquiry into complaints of police brutality, Mr Mo said they were also seeking a full investigation into the Yuen Long rampage.

Asked if he was worried about violence breaking out during the march, Mr Mo promised it would be “peaceful, rational and non-violent”.

Calls online to “take revenge” on rural powers allegedly behind the Sunday attacks have been causing particular concern.

A list of targets, including the graves of the parents of rural leader and pro-government lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu and ancestral halls in rural communities, had been circulating online since Sunday.

The tombstones of Mr Ho’s parents were ultimately desecrated on Tuesday, prompting a firm condemnation from the lawmaker.

Another pro-government lawmaker and rural leader, Mr Leung Che-cheung, warned there would be dire consequences for those who entered villages and damaged properties.

“Thousands of villagers will come after you, you will not make it out,” Mr Leung said.

Council Front lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick of the pro-democracy camp also urged protesters not to heed calls for revenge.

“If you go mess with their historic buildings, you will only justify villagers’ calls to protect their community,” Mr Chu said.

Instead, Mr Chu said, protesters should focus on making their demands clear and call for a probe into who orchestrated the Sunday attack.


Extradition bill protesters cause rush hour chaos in Hong Kong as they block main MTR rail line in city

24 July, 2019

HONG KONG — Rush hour train services were disrupted and delayed in Hong Kong on Wednesday (July 24) morning after anti-government protesters launched another campaign against rail operator MTR Corporation.

The protest in Admiralty was a response to the violence in Yuen Long MTR station on Sunday, when a mob of men in white T-shirts attacked passengers, passers-by, and those returning from an earlier extradition bill demonstration in Central.

At 8.20am, protesters prevented a Chai Wan-bound train from leaving Admiralty station by obstructing the doors. The service finally left 18 minutes late.

The MTR Corp said services had been disrupted and warned passengers it would take longer for them to reach their destinations. It expected Island line trains between Chai Wan and Kennedy Town to be delayed by 10 to 15 minutes as the emergency button on board was also frequently pressed.

There were disputes among passengers, protesters and police, as crowds grew on platforms.

“Your family members are getting beaten, how do you still have the mood to work?” protesters said.

“Hongkongers love to work!” another remarked sarcastically.

This was the second time this week train services were disrupted.

Since Monday, protesters have demanded the MTR Corp be held accountable for failing to protect passengers during violent late-night attacks in Yuen Long on Sunday.

About 100 men carrying metal rods beat up citizens and passengers, leaving at least 45 people injured. Eleven suspects have been arrested so far in connection with the incident.

The protests at Admiralty caused North Point station, which serves as an interchange for the Tseung Kwan O line and Island line, to come to a standstill. Announcements made at the station advised travellers to find other modes of transport.

Just after 9am, no trains had arrived at either platform, both of which were filled with morning commuters.

Some travellers opted to leave the station, and the MTR Corp allowed Octopus card users to leave without paying. Outside the station long queues formed at tram and bus stops.

Mr Kenneth Ng, an accountant, who lives in Yau Tang and works in Admiralty opted to take a bus to his office instead. He estimated it would add 30 minutes to his journey.

“It’s a bit of a hassle but I understand the protesters,” he said. “But my inconvenience is small in the grand scheme of things.

“When our government doesn’t listen, we need non-cooperation actions like this.”

Not everyone supported the protesters. Mr Sunny Lai Tat, 40, a clerical officer, was taken aback by the disruption.

“I didn’t even know this was happening, there’s just too much information going on,” he said. “I’m a little unhappy because I was supposed to meet somebody at 9.30am, but now I’m going to be late.

“It’s affecting the public’s daily lives too much, so I suggest they shouldn’t do it at peak hours.”

By around 9.30am train services were gradually returning to normal in Admiralty and North Point.

As services resumed, the number of people waiting for buses and trams was significantly reduced.

Earlier, hundreds of people had queued up for trams and buses, with lines extending into the road at the intersection between Shu Kuk Street and King’s Road.


Hong Kong police to launch raids on white-clad thugs who unleashed terror at train station

23 July, 2019

HONG KONG — Police were set to launch a series of raids in Hong Kong on Monday night (July 22) to arrest the white-clad men behind mob violence in Yuen Long, which left at least 45 people injured.

Force insiders told the Post they believed more than 100 attackers wielding wooden sticks and metal rods, including members of the 14K and Wo Shing Wo triad gangs, were involved in terrorising protesters and passers-by on Sunday night, following a mass anti-government march.

“We have a list of suspects in connection with the violent attacks. Anti-triad officers will soon launch an arrest operation in the district,” one source said on Monday.

[Thugs are convenient. The question is not who were the actors, but who are the people behind them. Criminals are supposed to have an adversarial relationship with the police. Maybe. Or maybe if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And if you are the police, thugs and criminals are your "go-to" suspects.]

The dozens of assailants identified by police in connection with the rampant attack in Yuen Long MTR station included a Wo Shing Wo faction leader, whose nickname is “Yat Poon Tsai”, according to the source.

He was said to hold the rank of “red-pole fighter”, a senior triad member who acts as an enforcer.

The other suspect, whose alias is “Dou Kai Hok”, is a village head in Yuen Long, who is believed to be a 14K triad member.

The source said officers would raid entertainment venues controlled by gangsters in Yuen Long, adding “the operation will begin on Monday night and last for several days”.

The Post was told that an attempt to set up a Lennon Wall in Yuen Long might have sparked the violence. The walls in public spaces are decorated with messages and drawings in support of anti-government demonstrations.

The source said there were several outbreaks of conflict between Yuen Long gangsters and extradition bill protesters last week.

“Yuen Long gangsters had warned that they would give protesters a lesson if they dared to come again,” he said.

The source said Sunday’s violence was organised, as hundreds of gangsters wearing white T-shirts gathered in the evening, hours before clashes erupted in different areas of the district.

[So who organised them, is the more important question.]

The force was criticised for their response to the rampaging mob, with residents complaining that officers took too long to arrive, and when they did make it to the scene, the attackers had already fled.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor hit out on Monday afternoon at the “shocking” violence in Yuen Long, and said she had requested the police commissioner left no stone unturned in arresting attackers.

On Sunday, at least 45 people including Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting were injured in the series of assaults and fights at different locations of Yuen Long district.

The most serious attack took place in Yuen Long MTR station at about 10.45pm, when a gang of men wearing white T-shirts used wooden sticks and metal rods to beat their targets, who were mostly extradition bill protesters.

Some of the most savage violence was seen when they stormed into a train carriage to attack passengers.

When two officers arrived at the scene seven minutes later, the pair made the assessment they did not have enough protective gear, so decided not to intervene and instead called for backup.

The attackers fled before police reinforcements of more than 30 officers arrived at the station at 11.20pm.

But the mob returned to the station to launch a second round of attacks at around midnight, by forcing open entrances that had been closed. Witnesses said there were no officers in sight.

The source said officers were deployed to other locations at the time, including a confrontation between more than 200 extradition bill protesters in black T-shirts and white-clad men at the entrance of nearby Nam Pin Wai village.

The two sides had left the area by 3am on Monday. No arrests were made at the scene.


How marauding gang struck fear into Yuen Long, leaving pregnant woman and dozens of protesters injured

23 July, 2019

HONG KONG — While riot police were firing round after round of tear gas to disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters in Sheung Wan at around 10.40pm on Sunday night (July 21), a more terrifying drama was playing out in Hong Kong’s northern town of Yuen Long.

In a shockingly violent rampage of unprecedented lawlessness, a mob of men in white T-shirts stormed into the Yuen Long MTR station, indiscriminately attacking people with sticks and iron rods.

Their target appeared to be black-clad protesters returning from Sunday’s major march against the government’s now-suspended extradition bill, but the assailants beat up anyone they came across, including passengers on trains, passers-by and even journalists at the scene.

Some were waving Chinese national flags and placards reading, “Defend Yuen Long, defend our homeland.”

[Thugs are pro-Beijing?]

Police later said more than 100 men were involved in the attack and a second one at midnight, including members of the notorious 14K and Wo Sing Wo triad gangs.

Six men were arrested, as of the early hours of Tuesday.

[Police identified the thugs as members of triad. It occurs to me that regardless of whether these triad members were involved in the attacks, the police would want to arrest them. So two for the price of one? Kill two birds with one stone? Solve two crimes with one arrest?]

The bloody scene left by hooligans attacking protesters and others
at Yuen Long MTR station. Photo: South China Morning Post
Word of the imminent trouble on Sunday had spread earlier through Apple’s airdrop file transfer service and social media, warning protesters not to get off at Yuen Long station amid reports that a crowd of suspicious men had gathered near Fung Yau Street East.

Protesters had placed clothes of every colour except black at ticket-vending machines at Central station, along with written warnings for those heading back to Yuen Long to get changed first.

A message had been circulated the day before among closed circles, calling on Yuen Long residents not to wear black, the preferred colour of the protest movement.

Villagers in the district also said they were reminded by their rural leaders not to venture out on Sunday if they could.

The warnings went mostly unheeded, amid a climate of rumours and false alarms, and the sheer scale and ferocity of the bloody violence that followed stunned the city.

“Don’t come in!” passengers in the paid area of the station yelled at the invaders. And to fellow travellers: “Everyone, please don’t retreat or else these men will storm in!”

They tried to protect themselves with open umbrellas, sheltered young pupils, and called on each other to stop provoking the uncontrollable mob.

Some put on a brave front, chanting in unison at their attackers and hoping to keep them at the scene until police arrived.

Little did they expect that officers would not attend the scene in force until 40 minutes later, when the first attack was over.

“I saw a woman lying on the ground and some white-shirted people around her with their faces covered. Some of them were brandishing sticks and metal rods, some of them were not,” one witness recalled.

“She was the one later referred to as the injured pregnant woman online. Her condition was stable but she did not know the whereabouts of her husband, who was chased after and beaten.”

Around 100 to 150 men in white T-shirts were stationed at different parts of the station at the time, he added.

Some tried to fight back with a fire hose and an extinguisher they found at the station, but they were overwhelmed by the assailants who storming into the paid area and onto the platform where trains were pulling in.

“Ladies, please move inside the carriage,” some of the men on the train shouted as they tried to protect them by standing near the doors and making sure no one was left behind on the platform.

For 10 minutes, passengers on the train were indiscriminately assaulted with sticks and rods.

One man was seen kneeling at the train door, imploring the mob to stop.

Video footage showed traumatised women standing on their seats and pleading for mercy.

“Please don’t beat us, I beg you.”

“I’m only trying to head home after a day of work.”

“We are just civilians.”

The MTR made an announcement declaring train services suspended and asking everyone to alight.

The railway operator later explained that the train driver was only aware of the doors being obstructed and did not see the violent attack.

It was past 11pm when the driver, responding to passengers’ pleas for help, pulled the train away from the platform after the doors could be closed.

Trains, which had been bypassing the station since 11pm after word of the violence spread, only resumed stops at Yuen Long some 20 minutes later.

The shocking violence was broadcast live on Facebook by Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, who also suffered injuries and needed 18 stitches for a mouth wound.

Mr Vincent Lo, a fourth-year university student, said he had called 999 at 10.28pm when he saw the huge crowd outside the station, where he could hear women speaking in Mandarin while standing next to the men in white T-shirts.

“The officer [at the control centre] noted my request coldly and only said police would arrive in 10 to 15 minutes when I asked,” he told the Post. “That, to me, was already too long. It was totally unreasonable for them to arrive at 11.20pm.”

Other witnesses, along with the management of the Yoho Mall linked to the station, said police could not be reached when they tried to report the case. Police later explained the call centre in the New Territories North was overwhelmed by hundreds of 999 emergency calls made between 10pm and midnight.

Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung said on Monday that two officers had arrived at the station at 10.52pm, seven minutes after they received a report about the violence, but decided to call for help after realising they did not have enough protective gear.

A police source defended their strategy, saying weeks of mass rallies and protest violence had put a serious strain on manpower and resources.

He said more than 10 per cent of manpower had been drafted in from each of the five police regions to deal with Sunday’s mass march.

[To be fair, the HK police do seemed over-stretched. But perhaps part of the reason for them being over-stretched is that they had "stretched targets".]

The source admitted there was not enough manpower in Yuen Long to deal with a series of emergencies the same day. Officers from the Emergency Unit, who have anti-riot gear on board their vehicles, were busy dealing with fights, assaults, and a fire in the district before the violence broke out at the train station.

More than 500 officers from a regional response contingent, who were carrying out a clearance operation against protesters in Sheung Wan at the time, had already been redeployed to Yuen Long to deal with chaos there, the source added.

He said the Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai police stations were besieged by more than 100 protesters each, and fights had broken out in the streets in different areas, including one in the Yuen Long town area.

By the time more than 30 officers arrived as reinforcements at 11.20pm, most of the attackers had already fled.

“I really witnessed a lot of people in white shirts running right past them, and they did not even stop them,” said the man who saw the pregnant woman in trouble. “They only raised their batons and roared, but did not arrest anyone.”

An angry crowd, joined by local residents who headed to the scene after finding out about the violence in the news, surrounded the officers when they arrived.

“Where have you been? You are supposed to protect us,” they shouted, yelling profanities in frustration. “Why would you allow those men to leave so easily?”

Police later explained that they had to let people go because they did not see them breaking the law and could not arrest someone simply based on the colour of their clothing.

Shortly before midnight, more than 200 people confronted the white-clad men at the entrance of nearby Nam Pin Wai village. Police reinforcements were then sent to the village to investigate.

Some had hurled objects, including road construction lights, at dozens of protesters who were standing on the staircases outside the MTR exit, forcing them to retreat.

No police officers could be seen inside the station, except one who was briefly spotted in the station control room.

Desperate people had been banging on the glass window of the room and pressing the intercom button, urging MTR staff to close the gate of the exit leading to the village. But their calls were only entertained at around 12.25am.

It was then that the men in white launched a second attack, with more than a dozen of them suddenly appearing at the gate, forcing open the shutters and rushing inside.

People in the station tried to fight them off through the shutters, then fled when they stormed in, running towards Yoho Mall 1 through another station exit.

Those who could not escape in time were viciously attacked and beaten without mercy.

Others, having given up hope that police would intervene, eventually triggered fire alarms with their umbrellas in the mall to alert firefighters.

A team of 100 riot police officers went to Nam Pin Wai village, where most of the men in white shirts had gathered, at around 1am. But no arrests were made as police said they did not find any weapons or come across anything suspicious.

In a statement, the MTR Corporation said in a statement it was deeply upset by the violence and stressed that staff had handled the situation as best as they could.

“The fact that at the time there were only three MTR staff and one contractor staff, who are all civilians, they could not handle the situation and had to rely on the assistance of law enforcement authorities,” the statement read.

In a joint petition, a group of MTR operating staff demanded management and police come up with measures to guarantee the safety of passengers and railway employees, warning they might consider going on strike.


[And then this:]

Chinese military can be deployed at Hong Kong’s request to contain protests, Beijing says

24 July, 2019

HONG KONG — The Chinese military has said that it can be deployed to Hong Kong to maintain social order at the request of the city’s government, adding that Sunday’s siege of the mainland government’s liaison office in the city was intolerable.

Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s defence ministry, echoed Tuesday’s (July 23) state media reports by saying the vandalism of the central government liaison office in Hong Kong – after weeks of mass protests against the city’s extradition bill — was a challenge to the bottom line of the principle of “one country, two systems”.

“We are closely following the developments in Hong Kong, especially the violent attack against the central government liaison office by radicals on July 21,” Wu said at a briefing on Wednesday (July 24) to introduce China’s new defence white paper.

“Some behaviour of the radical protesters is challenging the authority of the central government and the bottom line of one country, two systems. This is intolerable.”

Asked how the defence ministry would handle events in Hong Kong and independence forces, Mr Wu said only that “Article 14 of the garrison law has clear stipulations”, without elaborating.

The garrison law became effective on July 1, 1997, the date of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China. Article 14 states that the Hong Kong government – in accordance with the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution – can ask the central government for assistance from the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) Hong Kong garrison for the maintenance of public order and disaster relief.

Should any such request by the Hong Kong government be approved, the Hong Kong garrison would send troops to carry out the task, then immediately return to their station.

The troops would be under the command of the garrison’s highest commander, or the officer authorised by them, with arrangements to carry out the required task being made by the Hong Kong government.

Meanwhile, Article 14 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law states: “Military forces stationed by the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for defence shall not interfere in the local affairs of the Region. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region may, when necessary, ask the Central People’s Government for assistance from the garrison in the maintenance of public order and in disaster relief.”

Veteran China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said the defence spokesman’s remarks were noteworthy because they were subtly different from the mainland authorities’ long-standing stance that the PLA’s Hong Kong garrison would not interfere in the city’s internal affairs.

“Now the spokesman of the defence ministry did not say explicitly that the PLA’s Hong Kong garrison would not interfere in the city’s affairs, but instead said the ministry is closely following the developments in Hong Kong,” Mr Lau said.

“My interpretation is that the PLA is in the stage of observing the situation in Hong Kong. The PLA’s Hong Kong garrison is like a submarine which is floating up slowly to the water level.

“Beijing is concerned about interference in Hong Kong affairs by foreign and external forces, and is using the existence of the PLA in the city to imply that it could play a role, in accordance with the laws.”

Mr Lau said anti-government protesters should avoid attacking the facilities of the central government’s liaison office and the PLA garrison.

The leader of the pro-democracy Civic Party, Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, acknowledged that Beijing’s line had become slightly tougher, which he said was worrying.

“It is up to the Hong Kong government to send the world a message on how it would uphold and protect the city’s autonomy,” he said. “It is the government’s responsibility to reassure not only Hong Kong people but also Beijing and the world that it has the capability to keep things under control.”

He said Hong Kong people had lost confidence in the city’s government but that did not mean they wanted the PLA to take over.

On Monday, the liaison office director Wang Zhimin condemned the demonstrators’ actions.

“They have damaged the spirit of the rule of law in Hong Kong … and seriously hurt the feelings of all Chinese people, including 7 million Hongkongers,” Mr Wang said.

He said he appreciated those who had taken part in the pro-establishment camp’s rallies on June 30 and July 20, and said he had received a lot of messages supporting the liaison office since Sunday night.

Some pro-establishment lawmakers in Hong Kong said after Sunday’s unrest that the liaison office represented a symbol of Beijing’s sovereignty over Hong Kong, and that the protesters’ actions had contravened the national constitution, destroyed Hong Kong’s social order and harmed its people’s interests.


[Liaison Office... symbol of Beijing's sovereignty over HK... Yeah. I think that's why it was targeted. Duh!

And this:]

Hong Kong anti-government protests spill into Manchester City game

25 July, 2019

HONG KONG - Hong Kong soccer fans sang protest songs and waved anti-government banners as politics spilled into the sporting arena on Wednesday during a friendly game involving English Premier League champions Manchester City in the China-ruled city.

Before the game, a few protesters handed out fliers outside the stadium where Man City played local outfit Kitchee.

"We must protest. We are many," said one protester, who covered his face and declined to be named, as police nearby marshaled fans into the stadium.

Over past months, Hong Kong has been embroiled by a series of sometimes violent protests - its most serious crisis since the city was handed back to China by Britain in 1997 but with democratic freedoms under a "one country, two systems" formula.

Fresh conflicts broke out on Sunday in a widening crisis over an extradition bill that could see people from the territory sent to China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts.

Once Wednesday's game was underway, some fans sang "can you hear the people sing?" and many in the 20,000 crowd began chanting "Free Hong Kong".

Others held up "No Extradition" signs calling on the Hong Kong government to categorically scrap the extradition bill rather than merely suspend it as they have done now.

One man dressed in black, the preferred color of protesters, also ran onto the pitch, briefing disrupting the match towards the end.

Manchester City easily won the game 6-1, including two goals from winger Leroy Sane, on a hot and humid night.

Also on the scoresheet were David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Nabil Touaizi and Iker Pozo in front of a disappointing turnout of just under 21,000 at Hong Kong Stadium.


City manager Pep Guardiola had earlier said protests affected him at a human level. The former Barcelona coach was born in the Spanish region of Catalonia, and has been a staunch supporter of its push for independence from Spain.

"Always in society we have to accept protests," Guardiola was quoted as saying by local media.

Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 amid promises it would be granted a high degree of autonomy. But Beijing's increasingly tight control of the city has stoked discontent and protests. Some have even called for a split from China.

In a post-match news conference, Guardiola said he hoped a solution could be found to Hong Kong's problems. "Here the game was normal," he added, saying his players were unaffected.

Kitchee's captain, Huang Yang, said he hoped football could help ease tensions. "We use football to unite people, getting together and (to) see a future in Hong Kong."

Manchester City's Asia tour has been more notable for what happened off the pitch than on it. Firstly, they arrived in China two days later than scheduled for the Premier League Asia Trophy due to an "unforeseen administrative issue".

After losing in the final of the four-team tournament to Wolverhampton Wanderers on penalties on Saturday, Guardiola, his players and the club as a whole were criticized by Chinese state media outlet Xinhua for their "attitude of arrogance".

City can expect a less eventful finale to their Asia tour on Saturday, when they take on Japanese side Yokohama F Marinos - an outfit part-owned by City Football Group - before returning to Manchester ahead of their Aug. 4 meeting with Liverpool in the Community Shield.

They then kick off the defense of their Premier League title on Aug. 10 away to West Ham United, with the Spaniard admitting preparations have been far from ideal.

"I would have preferred another way, but it is what it is," he said. "Now it's always like this: going to the States or going to Asia, always traveling and sometimes not perfect conditions, but we adapt. The players accept that." 


[The other interesting thing were all the comments by (presumably) Singaporeans who criticised the protesters for disrupting the "business as usual" mien of HK with their protests. Some could not understand why they were still protesting when Carrie Lam had already suspended the bill (see preamble to this post), and so the protesters had already "won".

Which shows us all Singaporeans simplistic love for law and order. There was one comment about why they were protesting the extradition bill when it would have only targeted a few criminals, and not HKers in general.

Don't you love Singaporeans and their naiveté? 

They did not look down the road to 2047, and see the dread coming. They may not even know about 2047 (for HK). They are blessed with peace, stability, low crime, and good governance in SG, and so assume that is the norm everywhere else.

We are so unprepared for the world.  
The point is, HK will revert to Chinese (as in Communist) rule. Can HK resist the inexorable pull of history? Can it be independent? Can it resist China? 7 million people against 1.4 BILLION people? Even if HK had an independent military, how large and capable does it have to be to be able to repel the PLA?
HKers are starting to realise that they have 28 years left, and even the liberties they have now will likely be eroded over the next 28 years, before being fully (or selectively) rescinded by Beijing in 2047. Twenty-eight years is a lifetime, but not forever. HKers that can leave, likely have already left, or have plans in place to live elsewhere. Those who are left are those that cannot leave. And the only option for them is to adapt and accept whatever comes in 2047. Or protest and resist?

Addendum: Two more related news reports:]

Who are the Hong Kong triads accused of targeting protesters?

25 July, 2019

HONG KONG — A lawmaker, a father, his teenage son and a woman who was too scared to show her face spoke Wednesday (July 24) about an attack in a Hong Kong train station by a mob of men armed with sticks and poles. The assault on Sunday targeted people who were returning from anti-government protests and raised the fears of violence compounding political upheaval in the city.

Mr Lam Cheuk-ting, a pro-democracy lawmaker who rushed to the scene of the attacks in the satellite town of Yuen Long, said blame lay with both police, who failed to protect people, and the organised crime groups known as triads who carried out the attack.

“The police and the triads now rule Yuen Long together,” said Mr Lam, who was beaten in the attack and required 18 stitches for cuts to his mouth. “The police allowed the triads to make plans, to prolong the attack and to beat up civilians. The police allowed these mobsters sufficient time to leave the scene.”

[Note that this is reported by the NYT. The other reports by the SCMP does not directly hint at this Police-Triad cooperation.]

The mob attack has stirred fear and anger in Hong Kong. The streets of Yuen Long were desolate Monday night, with businesses closing early and residents staying home out of fear of further violence.

Police have now arrested 11 men accused of being connected to the mob attack, and local news outlets have reported that some of those arrested have affiliations with two prominent triads, 14K and Wo Shing Wo.

Here is a look at the history of the triads and their past political violence in Hong Kong.


Triads have historical roots in the secret societies and trade associations organised to protect territory, business and sometimes illicit activity. During the Qing dynasty, they helped resist the Manchu who ruled China, and they were enlisted by the Chinese Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, when it came to power after the collapse of the Qing in 1911.

The Kuomintang used Chinese criminal gangs to attack their political enemies at various times during the Republican era in China. It used the Green Gang in Shanghai to suppress unionists and help massacre thousands of communists in that city in 1927.

In Taiwan, where the Kuomintang fled in 1949 after losing a civil war to the Communist Party, gangs still sometimes wield political influence. The Bamboo Union triad helped suppress the pro-democracy movement in Taiwan in the 1980s, and in 1984 members of the gang assassinated Henry Liu, a journalist critical of the Kuomintang, in Daly City, California.

Chang An-lo, a former leader of the Bamboo Union triad who spent 10 years in prison in the United States for drug trafficking, leads a pro-China party in Taiwan whose members have attacked people critical of the Beijing government.


A century ago, Hong Kong had hundreds of triads, their numbers lifted waves of immigration from mainland China. Today, there are only a few dozen groups with interconnected ties and allegiances.

Some triad members in Hong Kong helped leaders of the Tiananmen Square protests flee China after a deadly military crackdown in June 1989. Before Britain returned the city to Chinese control in 1997, mainland authorities sought to co-opt triads in order to curb their assistance to pro-democracy demonstrators and promote stability during the sensitive handover period.

“The members of triads are not always gangsters,” Mr Tao Siju, China’s chief law enforcement officer, said during a visit to Hong Kong in 1992. “As long as they are patriots, concerned with maintaining the prosperity of Hong Kong, we should respect them.”

The triads have a patriotic reputation, but their deepest allegiance is to cash, said Professor Lo T. Wing, a professor at City University of Hong Kong who researches triads.

“They don’t work for political ideology,” he said. “Individual triad members have their own ideologies, but triads as a group — they only work for money.”


In the past decade, gang members have sometimes carried out assaults in Hong Kong with political implications. Mr Kevin Lau, former chief editor of Ming Pao, a prominent Hong Kong newspaper, was seriously injured in a knife attack in 2014.

During the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement demonstrations later that year, a gang of men, including several with triad connections, attacked a protest encampment in the Mong Kok district in Kowloon.

The attack in Yuen Long was meant to frighten people from attending protests, Prof Lo said, but the extremes of the mob violence drew attention from the damage done by demonstrators to the Chinese government’s liaison office.


After World War II, corruption among Hong Kong police officers and collusion with triads was common. Public anger grew after the police chief, Peter Fitzroy Godber, was found in 1973 to have hundreds of thousands of dollars in overseas accounts. That helped inspire aggressive reforms, and today the territory is regularly ranked highly on anticorruption indexes.

Critics of police in Hong Kong have accused them of acting in collusion with the thugs who attacked people Sunday. None of the men thought to have carried out the attacks were arrested that night, and officers were seen calmly chatting with men carrying sticks and metal bars and wearing white T-shirts, the attire of the thugs.

Law enforcement officials have said police were slow to respond because so many officers were needed to disperse protesters on Hong Kong Island, about 15 miles south of Yuen Long.

Prof Lo said, however, that police animosity toward the black-shirted protesters — whom they had clashed with for weeks — was the most likely factor in the slow response.

“If I were a policeman under attack for the past two months, with my family members bullied, not to mention other violence, what is the morale?” he said. "If I got some reports that said black shirts were under attack, do you think I’d respond energetically? Of course not. This is natural, but of course it’s not normal.” 


[Then the SCMP realised, perhaps, that their report on the possibility of the PLA being used to quell protests was more chilling than calming. At least, they felt the need to moderate their earlier... "speculative" (?) report, with this:]

Will China send in the troops to stamp out protests in Hong Kong?

25 July, 2019

HONG KONG — It is a prospect dreaded by many in Hong Kong, but debate is growing in mainland China about whether the central government should end weeks of upheaval in the city by sending in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The PLA has had a presence in Hong Kong since the city’s return to Chinese sovereignty but — unlike in mainland China — memories of the military’s bloody suppression of pro-democracy students and activists in Beijing in 1989 are still strong in the city three decades on.

Still, images of protesters vandalising Beijing’s liaison office in downtown Hong Kong on Sunday have fanned nationalist anger across the mainland, prompting calls for PLA intervention.
Concerns only deepened on Wednesday when defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian commented on the recent clashes and protests in Hong Kong. Without suggesting any action or plans by the PLA, Mr Wu made clear that the Garrison Law, which governs the operations of PLA troops in Hong Kong, already stipulates that the PLA is legally allowed to help the city maintain law and order at the request of Hong Kong’s government.

“We are closely following the developments in Hong Kong, especially the violent attack against the central government’s liaison office by radicals on July 21,” Mr Wu said.

“Some behaviour of the radical protesters is challenging the authority of the central government and the bottom line of ‘one country, two systems’,” he warned, referring to the formula that grants Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for 50 years. “This is intolerable.”

Both Article 14 and Article 18 of the Basic Law – the city’s mini-constitution – spell out how and under what circumstances the PLA troops in Hong Kong can be used.

While the legality is clear, analysts still believe that given the exorbitant political cost and complexities involved, using the military would remain an unlikely last resort.

Even Mr Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China’s nationalist tabloid Global Times, has spoken out against the idea, citing its “huge political cost” and the “severe uncertainty” it might bring to the situation.

“Once the PLA has taken charge of the situation in Hong Kong and quelled the riots, what’s next?” Mr Hu said in a social media post on Monday.

Mr Hu said there were no governance procedures in place that would allow the PLA to operate in Hong Kong and return things to normal. He also warned that any such action would be followed by international condemnation and a severe backlash among the Hong Kong public.

“The [PLA’s] Hong Kong garrison is the symbol of national sovereignty. It is not a fire brigade for law and order in Hong Kong,” he said.

The South China Morning Post reported last week that military force was not an option for mainland leaders working on a strategy to resolve the city’s biggest political crisis in decades.

And in June Major General Chen Daoxiang, commander of the Hong Kong garrison, assured Mr David Helvey, US principal deputy assistant secretary of defence for Indo-Pacific security affairs, that Chinese troops would not interfere in the city’s affairs, according to Reuters.

The comments support analysts’ assessments that deploying the PLA is not a viable solution to Hong Kong’s crisis.

“Will the mobilisation of PLA troops further inflame the situation? There might be people who will resist or even revolt against the PLA, and that may lead to bloodshed,” said Mr Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, a semi-official think tank.

The last time Beijing sent in troops to quell pro-democracy protests was during the Tiananmen Square crackdown on June 4, 1989 — bloodshed that has stained the PLA and the Communist Party to this day, despite decades of efforts to wipe it from public memory.

“Although they don’t like to admit it, they know they made a mistake in the way they used the PLA [in 1989],” said Mr Larry Wortzel, a long-time PLA watcher, who witnessed the crackdown as an assistant military attache at the US embassy in Beijing 30 years ago.

“In subsequent years, when there were major demonstrations, they managed to handle them with either the People’s Armed Police [PAP] or the Public Security Bureau [PSB], or in some cases a combination of both,” said Mr Wortzel, now a senior fellow in Asian security at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington.

The PAP is a 1.5 million-strong paramilitary police force tasked with maintaining domestic security and order, while the PSB is the country’s police force.

The June 4 crackdown is still widely remembered in Hong Kong, where tens of thousands gather every year on its anniversary for a candlelight vigil in the heart of the city.

“The activities in Hong Kong and the Chinese Communist Party’s conduct there have really had a profound impact on thinking in Taiwan. It has killed any chance with any political party of [supporting] the one country, two systems,” Mr Wortzel said.

“The last thing President Xi Jinping and the Politburo Standing Committee would want to do, if they can avoid it, is to use the PLA [in Hong Kong].”

The situation in Hong Kong is also being closely watched in the West, with many international firms basing regional headquarters in the Asian financial hub, thanks to its capitalist system and rule of law.

Deploying the PLA to Hong Kong would certainly spark an international outcry and draw huge pressure from Western countries, said Mr Liang Yunxiang, an international affairs expert at Peking University.

“Britain, of course, would have the harshest criticism since it governed Hong Kong for a long time and signed treaties with China to ensure Beijing would keep its commitment to one country, two systems,” Mr Liang said.

In the United States, the repercussions could go beyond verbal condemnation to a shift in policy that might fundamentally change Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre and prompt an exodus of businesses, according to Mr Wortzel.

“Any move to use the Chinese troops will create a furore in the US Congress … They will re-examine the Hong Kong Policy Act very carefully,” he said, referring to the bill passed in 1992 that allows Hong Kong to be treated as a non-sovereign entity distinct from mainland China on trade and economic matters.

“They will simply treat Hong Kong like another Chinese city, which affects export controls and how the financial industry operates.”

Just last month, members of Congress reintroduced the bipartisan Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. If the legislation is passed, the US could revoke Hong Kong’s special status under American law if Beijing fails to ensure the city has “sufficient autonomy”.

[This is the only leverage HKers have.]

The crisis comes as Beijing’s ties with Washington are already strained by a year-long trade war that has spilled into other areas of bilateral relations.

There is also mounting international pressure on China over issues such as its mass internment and political indoctrination of an estimated million or more members of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, despite the Chinese government’s repeated denials of ill-treatment of the inmates and attempts to defend its policies.

Mr Chen Daoyin, a Shanghai-based political analyst, said the increasing scrutiny China faced from Western countries – whether in the form of punitive tariffs or restrictions on technology – made it all the more important for China to keep Hong Kong as an open channel to connect with the world.

“If the military was deployed [in Hong Kong], it would mean China was ready to shut its doors completely,” Mr Chen said.

Mr Lau, from the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said the PLA should only be deployed as a last resort.

“It would be a huge blow to the principle of ‘letting Hong Kong people govern Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy’, since it will prove that Hong Kong people are not up to the task of governing themselves,” he said.

Mr Hu, from Global Times, said the PLA troops could be used only if the authorities lost control of the city or an armed rebellion broke out.

Short of that, he said, the central government should let the chaos in Hong Kong run its course and wait for the public mood to flip.

This strategy of sitting it out hinges on the city’s police force holding the line and stopping Hong Kong’s slide into total anarchy.

Mr Wortzel also warned that there were lines protesters should not cross— or risk provoking the use of military force.

“For instance, to this point, demonstrators have not gone up against the PLA garrison or any of its outposts. If they did that, I think it’s possible – actually it is very likely – that there will be a limited mobilised response [to defend the facilities],” he said.
While most analysts said the chance of Beijing resorting to military force was slim, the very idea — ludicrous to even discuss three months ago — has become a popular topic on social media on the mainland, where the discussion is not censored and many commenters support it.

The official media have been careful not to touch the subject but they too have stepped up rhetoric against the protests in Hong Kong.

In a rare move, state-run China Central Television has run commentaries and reports about protests in Hong Kong during its main evening news for five days in a row.

Only the most politically important issues receive such unusual treatment.


[And why the protests continues...]

Why Hong Kong extradition protests continue: the bill is not ‘dead’ – it can be revived in 12 days

13 July 2019 

By Timothy Lee

Last Sunday, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens took part in the fourth march within a month against the proposed law that would allow citizens and visitors in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China as well as other authoritarian states.

But why are Hongkongers still taking to the streets after Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive, announced that the extradition bill was ‘dead’?

Simple. The strong opposition against the bill represents a general distrust of the pro-Beijing regime in Hong Kong, which has not agreed to withdraw the bill formally. The government has also rejected the protesters’ demands for the exoneration of arrested activists, an independent inquiry into police brutality, and democratic political reform.

The Chief Executive described the bill as ‘dead’ in an attempt to cool the angry city down ahead of protests planned for coming weeks. As expected, it did not work. The next march, in Sha Tin, will take place on Sunday.

Under the parliamentary rules of the Legislative Council, the bill has not really ‘died’. In the English-speaking world, when we say a bill has ‘died’, it means there can be no future proceedings on the same bill. For example, in the US House of Representatives, a bill ‘dies’ if it is voted down by the relevant committee or on the House floor, or if the House decides not to refer the bill to any committee after its first reading.
Photo: May James.

Back in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, most of the bills are introduced by government officials, while the lawmakers have limited legislative competence as they are barred from proposing any law that incurs public spending or affects government policy, unless approved by the Chief Executive.

While the pro-Beijing camp dominates the council, thanks to the functional constituencies, a bill introduced by the government may still ‘die’ — if the second or third reading of the bill is voted down, or the term of the council ends before the bill is passed, or it is formally withdrawn.

However, none of these things have ever happened to the extradition bill. John Lee, the Secretary for Security, has merely retracted the request for the Legislative Council to resume the second reading. The second reading could resume; Mr Lee just has to give 12 clear days notice. So the extradition bill’s death is fake — it is pretty much alive.

The protests against the extradition bill have evolved into a decentralised, full-scale political movement across the city, in which the people of Hong Kong fight for the complete withdrawal of the bill and democratic political reform. For this cause, we have paid a tragically high price.

So far at least four young people have taken their own lives and a 73-year-old man has been on hunger strike for over 180 hours. Yet Lam’s government has refused to respond to any of our demands, not even the formal withdrawal of the unpopular extradition bill.

To the people of the Free World the people of Hong Kong now appeal for solidarity. Talk or write to politicians and government officials in your home country. Persuade them to take a stronger stand against the Chinese suppression in Hong Kong. The bill is not dead, but we will not back down until we achieve our goal.

Timothy Lee is a community officer in To Kwa Wan South and a former Hong Kong Federation of Students Secretary-general.

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