I don’t have time today to prepare a longer analysis but I wanted to put forth a number of thoughts on the Hong Kong protests.
1.The protests will not be quelled soon. Watching and reading a variety of international media outlets, I am surprised at the number of people that expect this to be a day or two of protests before returning to normal. I would personally be quite surprised if this was a short lived protest movement.
2.The protesters are dangerous because they feel as if they have nothing to lose. Hong Kong has many grievances against China and they feel as though they have nothing to lose by taking this final step.
3.This is Beijing’s worst nightmare. The one thing Beijing has been trying to avoid for years in Hong Kong and the Mainland was a mass protest through all the color revolutions. They were caught flat footed by the Umbrella Revolution. They know this has already spiraled out of control for them and now they hope to defuse the situation.
4.The official response has been astoundingly inept. Whether arresting a sympathetic high school student, firing tear as on protesters with the hands in the air, or issuing press releases which say nothing will change now please go home, the official response would fail any crisis management section in public relations.
5.Beijing and Hong Kong are between a rock and a bigger rock. Official responses to issues like the White Paper and potential protests have been heavy handed and only served to bring out more protesters. However, giving the protesters too much freedom risks having the protests spread to the Mainland or force Beijing to back down. Right now the official strategy appears to be do nothing and hope that people go home. I doubt that is going to happen.
6.The issues at play are much deeper and more complicated than portrayed in the media. The White Paper from Beijing is merely the last straw that provoked this and not the only issue. I will write more about this in the coming days.
7.Beijing technically allowed Hong Kong universal sufferage but it gets to pick the candidates. This harkens back to the Henry Ford saying about cars that “you can have it any color you want as long as its black.” Hong Kongers may have a chance to vote, that doesn’t mean they have a choice.