My parents have expressed their ambivalence about the protests, and it’s here that I’ve noticed the generation gap more acutely than ever before. The reports about people being unable to return to work has incited some measure of annoyance from my parents, who think that the protests have gone too far. They think it needs to be scaled back, and they need to accept the terms put on the table by Beijing.
But as a student myself, I believe that if the protests are small, they’ll be too weak to force Beijing’s hand. And how can you possibly stage a large-scale protest without affecting commerce and business? And isn’t that a good thing? If all these services are affected, that’ll draw even more attention to the situation, which may accelerate change. Furthermore, the protests are necessary if there is going to be change; you can’t just snap your fingers and hope that the Chinese government will eventually grant Hong Kong some measure of democracy. Not when Xi Jinping is in change and strengthening his grasp on power.
Beijing clearly loathes to lose Hong Kong to democracy, but the students are not stupid, and won’t stand for a facsimile of democracy. Will the students just give up? I doubt it, not at the rate things are going. Will Beijing relent? Nope, doesn’t seem likely either. Is another Tiananmen Square incident about to erupt? I really, really hope not. But that looks increasingly likely to my eyes as Xi’s new government has not been shy in using force in other areas of China, including earlier during this set of protests.
Will another Tiananmen be any good? The students will be hurt physically for sure. Mainland Chinese might not be fully aware of the extent that the crackdown has hurt people. China will regain control over Hong Kong. But the world will see, and I wonder if China can afford that. On the flipside though, can the world afford to criticise and condemn China? Can we do anything from the outside to force China’s hand? Sanctions will hurt everyone, and I’m not sure they will do anything in the long run either.
The political fallout for these protests is something far beyond what I can predict. But I can say for sure: my parents aren’t correct. Diplomacy is not going to work with this Chinese government. Tibet and Xinjiang’s routine protests and violence have always been crushed ruthlessly, but they were too remote to be reported on extensively. But Hong Kong is different. It’s high time for China to change.
The Hong Kong government on Thursday night cancelled talks with student protest leaders, saying that the students’ refusal to accept anything less than free and open elections was “against public interests and political ethics.”
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, who was due to meet with leaders of the Hong Kong Student Federation on Friday, said at a press conference that student protest leaders had violated the terms of talks in insisting on tabling Beijing’s electoral stipulations. Those call for the vetting, by a pro-Beijing committee, of all candidates for Hong Kong’s top job in the next elections in 2017.
“Unfortunately, the protesters rejected the rational proposal and went back to their old position,” said Lam. “This is sacrificing public good for their political demands.”
The students and other pro-democracy groups want the Chief Executive, as the head of government is called, to be directly elected from a pool of candidates nominated…
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