Now in its tenth week of protests against an extradition bill, Hong Kong is facing its biggest political crisis in decades, posing a serious challenge to the Chinese communist regime.
After years of growing Chinese intervention in the city, many protesters feel that this is their last chance to defend the city’s autonomy.
At least eight protests in various forms were planned over the weekend in the city.
Young and Old
Families took to the streets near the city’s business district in the morning of Aug. 10 for a march to “guard our children’s future” that ended at the government headquarters, where colorful doodles from children with supportive messages to the protest soon were stuck onto a temporary Lennon Wall.
The protest organizer criticized the Hong Kong government and police’s handling of the demonstrations.
“The police’s abuse of power is so out in the open,” organizer Wai-ming Ng said in a speech at the rally. “But [the government] refused to face the loss of control of police and instead showed hostility to the protesters, thereby intensifying the violent confrontations.”
Ng, a father of a 9-year-old girl, said that he felt “troubled to see children grow up in this kind of social environment” and urged the government to listen to the concerns of Hongkongers.
“Otherwise we don’t know how to tell our kids what is going on in society right now,” he said. “What kind of role model is [the Hong Kong leader] showing to our young ones? I think it’s unbelievable.”
Around the same time, a group of elderly Hongkongers delivered a letter to the city’s Department of Justice entreating the government to heed the voices of the public.
They said that they were disillusioned with the inaction of the current administration that has led Hong Kong “into an age of decay.”
“What we seek to restore is a … secure city that Hongkongers take pride in, one that has a police team we can trust, one with a responsible system and a far-sighted, efficient government,” they said in the letter, adding that the police’s abuse of power had created “white terror” in Hong Kong.
Both groups left shortly afterwards, avoiding confrontation with police, adhering to a new strategy recently adopted by protesters: “be water.”
The phrase, popularized by legendary martial artist Bruce Lee, speaks to the ability to adapt oneself to fast-changing situations. Consistent to this strategy, protesters have taken to adopting ‘flash mob’ style protests emerging at various locations and retreating when police appear.
After police fired tear gas toward activists in the northern town of Tai Po on Aug. 10, the crowd dispersed from the area and reemerged in the popular shopping district of Kowloon, prompting another firing of tear gas by police.
Similar exchanges ensued late into the summer night.
“Rush forward like floods when you advance, and withdraw yourself like the receding tide,” Lester Shum, who was a student leader during the city’s pro-democracy movement in 2014, previously said of the strategy in a Facebook post.
Meanwhile, thousands packed the arrivals hall of Hong Kong International Airport for a peaceful sit-in, which has now entered its third day.
Mostly dressed in black, the demonstrators silently held up signs with graphics expressing their disapproval of the police’s use of force and demanding the bill’s full withdrawal.
Some volunteers also greeted tourists with pamphlets in English and Chinese explaining why they were there and apologizing for the inconvenience brought to travelers.
Some Western faces also participated in the sit-in in support of the local protesters fight against the regime’s tightening grip on the city.
“Communism can’t work, not in this day and age,” a protester from South Africa told the Hong Kong bureau of The Epoch Times while holding a sign that read: “No Riots Here.”
She said that she had lived in Hong Kong and China for two and a half years each, but declined to give her name.
Meanwhile, the city’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways on Aug. 10 said it suspended one pilot for “rioting,” and dismissed two ground staff for leaking travel information for a Hong Kong police soccer team who were due to fly to China.
China’s aviation authority had earlier demanded the airline suspend staff members involved in the protests.