Hong Kong is ugly

Escalation in Hong Kong: devastating radicalization

Beijing will never accept the demand for Hong Kong's independence. The authoritarian leadership would rather bloodily suppress the protests.

A participant in the demonstration on Sunday in Hong Kong Photo: dpa

It's getting uglier in Hong Kong. Now a mob armed with metal bars and batons has brutally attacked peaceful demonstrators on their return from a democracy rally in a train station and beat them to hospital maturity. One of them is in mortal danger.

The likelihood that the thugs were members of the Hong Kong Mafia, known to have close ties with mainland China, is high. And that these triads may even have acted on behalf of Beijing is also not entirely absurd.

In any case, such an approach of the communist leadership is to be expected. Three years ago she had booksellers kidnapped from Hong Kong soil to the People's Republic because she was too critical of Beijing. They appeared on Chinese state television weeks later with forced confessions. There is still no rule of law in the People's Republic. And less and less in their Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

But the protests of Hong Kong citizens also seem to be tragically radicalized. With the storming of parliament at the beginning of the month, when a group of demonstrators devastated the interior of the building with iron bars and pipe wrenches, the limits of the civil disobedience that had characterized Hong Kong's democracy protest until then were exceeded.

As understandable as the impatience of the mostly young activists, who, unlike their parents' generation, do not benefit from China's rise, but suffer from the onslaught of rich mainland Chinese in their city and the resulting cost pressure - this radicalization is tragic.

Everyone knows: Beijing will never accept Hong Kong’s independence. The authoritarian leadership would not shy away from bloodily suppressing the protests. Beijing certainly does not want this to happen, but that cannot be ruled out.

Nevertheless, the protest is not hopeless. It is true that in 28 years' time Hong Kong's partial autonomy status is set to fall completely. Then the 7-million-inhabitant metropolis will be one of dozens of major Chinese cities. Until then, however, fighting for the rights to which the Hong Kong people are constitutionally entitled according to the principle of “one country, two systems” is strategically correct. Because until then a lot can still change. Not least in Beijing.