Peaceful solution is the answerThe Hong Kong unrest triggered by resistance to the mainland’s demand for extradition of criminal suspects has stretched to the sixth month and hit a critical point. Warlike scenes sprouted across the city as student protesters besieged by militant police attempted to raid the Polytechnic University — the last remaining stronghold of anti-China students — early Monday. The police stormed into the campus in armored cars, firing tear gas and water canons at the protesters, and students threw petrol bombs and bricks at the riot police and shot arrows toward them.
A violent raid, which included the firing of real bullets, took place after Chinese President Xi Jinping last week ordered the restoration of order by stopping violence and unrest in Hong Kong. Last week, Xi said that restoring order is the most urgent mission for the Hong Kong government. Beijing has made its position clear that Hong Kong authorities must end the calamity that has been wrecking havoc on the local economy and its international credibility.
Following Xi’s order, Hong Kong police seem to be determined to put an end to the six-month-old violent protests. They have even gone after the university by singling it out as a weapons factory, despite pleas from parents and citizens against the raid. The bloody raid could build up a humanitarian crisis and major catastrophe. The authorities must prevent any more bloodshed as the police have already used real bullets and killed protesters. If Beijing decides to mobilize the Chinese Army, it would certainly worsen the situation.
Compared with the crowds of over 1 million at a certain point, the democracy movement has considerably waned particularly after the police turned militant and the prolonged instability began to affect the everyday lives of Hong Kong citizens. But the protest won’t be solved if Beijing does not ensure Hong Kong’ political independence. The fact that this year’s popular movement has become greater than the Umbrella Revolution of 2015 signifies the need for Beijing to guarantee autonomy in Hong Kong.
Ultimately, Beijing, Hong Kong authorities and citizens must come to an agreement. Prosperity of the city island will never return if they cannot find a peaceful solution as soon as possible.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 19, Page 34