Hong Kong’s roar of rage

Protesters in Hong Kong holding umbrellas © ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP/Getty Images
An act of desperation

Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, may have suspended implementation of the territory’s unpopular extradition law. But she has not withdrawn it and “did not even meet representatives of those who marched” says Louisa Lim in The New York Times. So it is no wonder that “in an act of desperation” protestors stormed the legislative assembly, spray-painting over symbols of Chinese authority. It was “a collective roar of rage” against the government.

The Chinese government is likely to use the latest incidents “to portray the whole movement as one of thugs and hooligans”, says Richard Lloyd Parry in the Times. While “it will not succeed”, it doesn’t really matter. This is because having “shrugged their shoulders and turned away”, the international community has effectively given the Chinese a green light to crack down further.

The sad fact is that the “power of principled dissent” matters less to Western politicians than Chinese money and technology. “No-one pretends the outside world can stop Beijing doing what it wants”, says Philip Johnston in the Daily Telegraph. However, China is in “danger of killing the golden goose” if it continues this crackdown. After all, without confidence in the rule of law, Hong Kong “has no future as a financial centre”.

Already “fewer Hongkongers than ever now identify as Chinese” while “the wealthy have been moving their assets abroad”. What’s more, if it breaks the agreement with the British about Hong Kong’s future, “why would countries that have entered agreements under China’s Belt and Road initiative trust them to abide by the terms?”