Things are quickly moving to a head. Something is about to happen. One of the primary questions right now is how Beijing will react, and how Hong Kongers will react in turn. I’ve already written on this earlier, but basically I feel that Occupy Central will grow in number and power in proportion to how ham-fisted Beijing responds. It looks at this moment that they are prepared to act quite badly. SCMP writes today that,
A former top Beijing official on the city’s affairs warned that Occupy Central would end in bloodshed if its organisers refused to back down. Chen Zuoer, former deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, also suggested in an RTHK interview that the movement was being “manipulated by Western countries to overthrow a regime”, and that Beijing “would not tolerate such action”
It now looks likely that Ferguson is coming to Hong Kong. The issue of what happens next depends on which competing model of Hong Kongers collective political culture will arise in response to heavy-handedness.
- Model 1: Hong Kongers are a timid, business-minded, practical people that will run with their tails between their legs if there’s any violent crackdown. A lot of people might want more, politically, but they’re pragmatic and known when to quit. In this model, Beijing wins by sheer force of will, manpower, and monopoly on the ‘legitimate use of violence’
- Model 2: Ferguson. Kiev. Cairo. People are upset about X, and a small group comes out to protest. Those protesters are mistreated. People who were sympathetic but not engaged become engaged as they become more enraged. It’s the basic working model for all civil disobedience – the purpose is to make an oppressor act and look just as bad as they really are. It creates sharp dividing lines between ‘us’ vs. ‘them’, good vs evil, peaceful vs violent. The state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of violence grows weaker every day. The more violent and heavy-handed Beijing gets with Hong Kong, the more likely democrats are to win at their demands.