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Silent majority can save the SAR from brink of abyss

By Paul Yeung | China Daily Asia | Updated: 2019-08-19 16:02

A large crowd of residents take part in an anti-violence rally organized by Safeguard Hong Kong at Tamar Park, Hong Kong, Aug 17, 2019. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

Hong Kong is at a critical and dangerous juncture. The anti-government protests have spread to different districts, with their new target being Hong Kong International Airport, which came to a halt last week after thousands of protesters flooded its main terminal building, leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights and thousands of travelers stranded.

It’s not hard to understand why the radical protesters have targeted the airport. They were trying to pressure the SAR government into submitting to their demands by crippling the airport, which is one of the city’s key economic arteries. The occupation of the airport came as government officials warned that Hong Kong’s economy is deteriorating, and that social stability must be restored as soon as possible in order to face the economic challenges. The chaos created by the protesters at the airport suggests that they couldn’t care less about the economy. Indeed, they are taking advantage of the poor economic situation to advance their objectives. The protesters are hijacking the whole society for political ransom, threatening to “perish together” with all Hong Kong people.

The storming of the airport would have continued were it not for the court injunction. The protesters had been stepping up their action at the airport. Initially, they only demonstrated at the arrival hall, trying to convey their messages to visitors. But, later on, they moved to the departure hall as well, disrupting airport operations and disturbing travelers. They were trying to drag more people into the political campaign.

The central government’s concern about the escalating violence is valid. The State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office has warned of the budding shoots of terrorism, and condemned the violent acts of the radicals in stronger terms. The HKMAO has, so far, held three press conferences to clarify its stance on the issue. At the latest press briefing, HKMAO spokesperson Yang Guang issued a stern warning to the agitators, saying the central government would not tolerate acts that threaten national sovereignty and national interests. The Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region also condemned the escalating violence unleashed by the radical protesters, calling it “terrorist acts”. The central government, on behalf of 1.4 billion Chinese people, has pledged its full support for the SAR government in handling the current crisis.

The violence is pushing Hong Kong to the brink of an abyss, as Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor warned on Tuesday. The radicals are raising the intensity of their violent actions with the aim of undermining the facilities that are crucial to normal social functioning. If the violence is allowed to continue unabated, it could bring total destruction to the city, crippling every function of society. There is no arguing that the top priority for Hong Kong now is to stop the violence and end the turmoil.

The silent majority can contribute by making their voices heard. It was reported that a planned “non-cooperation” campaign targeting public transportation systems on Tuesday was called off after some supporters disputed about this strategy, as it would cause inconvenience to commuters. It seems that the protesters have learned a lesson from the Aug 5 “general strike”, which enraged many Hong Kong residents by plunging them into a traffic mess. That means public opinion matters in the fight against violence.

Hong Kong people have been proud of the city’s low crime rate, which affords residents the leisure to enjoy vast liberty. The low crime rate is the product of a good chemistry between the police force’s professionalism and excellent cooperation with citizens. Such good relations must be maintained for Hong Kong to stop the violence and end the unrest as soon as possible for the sake of our future.

The author is research officer of the One Country Two Systems Research Institute.

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