Two things from the South China Morning Post:
- First, the good news. The SCMP says that “Six men were arrested on Monday night as Hong Kong police began hunting down the mob responsible for an unprecedented rampage at a train station in the northern town of Yuen Long that left 45 people injured the night before … [and] … Sources told the Post more than 100 men in white T-shirts were involved in Sunday night’s bloody violence, including members of the notorious 14K and Wo Shing Wo triad gangs … [about which I commented a couple of days ago, and]… The city’s embattled police force came under heavy fire for turning up too late to stop the shocking attacks on anti-government protesters, journalists and passers-by at the station, as well as terrified passengers on trains … [and, the reports says that] … The six men – arrested for unlawful assembly – were aged 24-54. Some of them had triad backgrounds, while others were drivers, hawkers, renovation workers or unemployed.” I have also heard reports that some of the men, the so-called “white-shirts” (because anti-government protesters have been wearing black T-shirts, many like my favourite I ♥ Hong Kong shirt), were hired by the owner of the upscale mall in which the Yuen Long MTR station is located to clear protesters from the mall; but
- Second, on the not so good aside of the equation, the SCMP also reports that “News of Sunday night’s brutal attacks on protesters and journalists in suburban Hong Kong has been censored on the mainland, but vandalism at Beijing’s liaison office received blanket coverage … [and] … As a result, while Hongkongers focused on an armed mob attacking civilians in Yuen Long, there was uproar on the mainland over protesters laying siege to the central government’s liaison office, where the national emblem was defaced and anti-Chinese obscenities spray-painted on the building … [because] … Many on the mainland were angered by the protesters’ actions, questioning whether they had lost their purpose.” The powers in Beijing are sensitive to public opinion and the hardliners will use this sentiment to encourage a get-tough strategy … which will, in my opinion, be “back-asswards.”
So, good for the Hong Kong Police for doing the right thing and doing it right, too. Whoever these “white shirts” may be, the acts in the Yuen Long station were, pretty clearly, criminal and the perpetrators must be called to account in Hong Kong’s fair and just law courts.
But the protesters who defaced the signs at the central government liaison office did not serve their cause well … unless their “cause” was to give Beijing ammunition to use against Hong Kong because they, the vandals who defaced the sign, were undercover agents of the Beijing government, which is quite possible.
This is, after all, a very modern example of war in the grey zone and it is being waged, right before our eyes, by
both several sides ~ the people of Hong Kong are caught in the middle, sometimes being steered and used by forces they cannot see. The Chinese have been studying and practising war in the grey zone for about 2,500 years,
Hong Kong matters for a whole host of reasons, first: it is one of the world’s top financial centres ~ huge amounts of business, especially Chinese business are done in Hong Kong’s trading rooms 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week; second: the peaceful integration of Taiwan with China depends on “one country, two systems” working FOR Hong Kong. The stakes are high, I’m pretty sure the people around Xi Jinping see the situation more clearly than I do, but I still worry that emotion will drown out reason and everyone will lose.