MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

MoA – Why The Hong Kong Riots Are Coming To An End

Posted by M. C. on November 25, 2019

The plan failed because China was too smart to give the U.S. what it wanted. Now it is Trump who is under pressure. He needs the trade deal with China because the current trade war is doing harm to the U.S. economy and endangers his reelection.

Which is probably the real reason why the protests have died down.

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/11/why-the-hong-kong-riots-are-coming-to-an-end.html

Moon of Alabama

The U.S. sponsored riots in Hong Kong are mostly over. They were sustained much longer than we had expected.

The “marginal violence” campaign of the “pro-democratic” students has failed to win more support for them. Regular Hongkongers are increasingly willing to take a stand against further provocations:

Demonstrators gathered at about 12.30pm on a bridge outside Exchange Square, which houses Hong Kong’s stock exchange in the city’s financial heartland, in another round of lunchtime protests that have been staged most days over the past two weeks.Scuffles broke out after a pro-police group of about 50 people showed up about an hour later, but police arrived soon after to clear the area.

During at least two altercations between some members of each group, an anti-government contingent yelled “go back to China” at their adversaries, and one of their number kicked a woman walking towards the smaller group.

Ten days ago the core of the black clad rioters began to paralyze Hong Kong’s traffic during regular workdays. They ransacked nearly every metro stations and barricaded large thoroughfares and tunnels. Schools were closed, businesses and workers were severely harmed.

One 70 year old street cleaner was killed when he was hit by a stone thrown by the rioters against civilians who tried to remove a barricade. A 57 year old man was drenched with gasoline and set alight after he verbally disagreed with the rioter’s ransacking of a metro station. A policeman was shot with an arrow.

The rioters occupied the Chinese University and the Polytechnic University (PolyU) which are next to large streets and the important Cross-Harbor-Tunnel. Using the universities as logistic bases and fortifications they managed to keep many roads closed throughout day and night. After some negotiations with the president of the Chinese University the rioters evacuated from there while leaving some 8,000 petrol bombs behind. They concentrated in the PolyU next to the Cross-Harbor-Tunnel.

That was a mistake.

Last Sunday the police surrounded the PolyU and let no one leave. Those who wanted out were either arrested or, when under 18, identified and handed to their parents. There were several violent battles when the rioters attempted to break through the police cordon but only a few escaped.


biggerAfter a few days most of those inside PolyU surrendered to the police.

Today there are still some 30 rioter holed up in a PolyU building. The police are waiting them out. They said that they had made more than a thousand arrests. The university is ransacked and there was significant battle damage. The rioters again left thousands of Molotov cocktails and other weapons behind.

The blockage of the city traffic and the increasing damage caused by rioter vandalism has alienated even those who earlier supported them. As the police now have most of the core rioters under arrest there is little chance that such violent protests will continue.

On Sunday there will be citywide district council elections in Hong Kong. China had pushed for the elections to go forward under all circumstances. Riot police will guard all polling stations.

Weeks ago the “pro-dem” candidates, who supported the rioters, were still poised to win more seats than they had held before the protests. But they now fear that the general public will punish them for the mayhem they have caused and will choose establishment candidates:

Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said while the turnout could set another record, the overall situation was more unpredictable than before.“The pan-democrats could have won a landslide victory if the elections had been held in the summer, when the protests erupted,” Choy said. “But after the recent clashes at two universities, undecided voters may be worried about public order and be discouraged from voting.

He was referring to fiery battles protesters fought with police outside Chinese University on November 12, followed by more confrontations outside Polytechnic University last week.

“It will be difficult for the camp to win more than half of the seats, as some originally envisaged,” Choy said.

The Hong Kong government has conceded none of the protesters’ “five demands”. The only thing that the protesters have won is the passing of legislation by the U.S. Congress:

The House of Representatives on Wednesday followed the lead of the Senate in overwhelmingly approving two pieces of legislation: The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which requires the president to annually review the favourable trading status that the US gives to Hong Kong, threatening to revoke it and impose penalties against officials if freedoms are determined to have been quashed; and the Protect Hong Kong Act, which will block the sale of tear gas and other policing items.The former, although largely symbolic, could alter Washington’s relationship with Hong Kong and Beijing.

US President Donald Trump has a straightforward choice on legislation passed on to him by the United States Congress supporting the protests that have engulfed Hong Kong – approve or veto. Coming amid tough bargaining on his trade war with China, he may be tempted to make his decision part of the negotiations.

But Beijing sees such measures as striking at the heart of Chinese sovereignty. Radical protesters could be spurred to greater violence. Unspecified countermeasures are promised should Trump give his approval.

But the trade war, violence and legislation have damaged business sentiment in Hong Kong. Approval or not, pessimism and uncertainty have already been deepened. There can be no winners.

Trump wants the trade deal with China and will therefore likely veto the bill:

Speaking on the “Fox & Friends” morning program, the president said that he was balancing competing priorities in the U.S.-China relationship.“We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with President Xi [Jinping], he’s a friend of mine. He’s an incredible guy, but we have to stand … I’d like to see them work it out, okay?” the president said. “I stand with freedom, I stand with all of the things that I want to do, but we are also in the process of making one of the largest trade deals in history. And if we could do that, it would be great.”

A veto would only have a temporary impact as the law has passed the House and Senate by veto proof majorities.

The idea behind the protests and the rioters In Hong Kong was all along to provoke another Tian An Men incident. This has been quite obvious since the start of the protest. It now gets publicly acknowledged:

BBC Newsnight @BBCNewsnight – 11:00 UTC · Nov 19, 2019“Some of the protesters seem to have an objective to provoke a military confrontation with China. They seem to want a Tiananmen Square outcome as success.”

Fmr Foreign Sec @Jeremy_Hunt says he is “concerned with the tactics” with some of #HongKong’s protesters

Had China moved troops to Hong Kong, or allowed more force to be used against the protesters, the U.S. would have used that to press its allies to put strong sanctions on China. The protesters’ violence was designed to achieve that outcome. The plan was part of the larger U.S. strategy of decoupling from China.

The plan failed because China was too smart to give the U.S. what it wanted. Now it is Trump who is under pressure. He needs the trade deal with China because the current trade war is doing harm to the U.S. economy and endangers his reelection.

Which is probably the real reason why the protests have died down.

 

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