It is a facet of human nature to gravitate towards the underdogs of this world and when covering mass anti-government uprisings, wherever they take place, the media and human rights groups tend to reflect that sentiment.
The fact is though ‘the people’ are not a monolith, among them are bad actors, and as we witnessed during the 2011 misnamed Arab Spring that delivered hellish outcomes to Syria, Libya and Yemen, people battling for a better life are often their own worst enemies.
Residents of the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong who’ve taken to the streets almost daily over the past four months should be careful of what they wish for in light of looming unintended consequences. They are crossing red lines, unwittingly constructing a rod for their own backs and using violence to destroy the economic viability of one of the wealthiest cities on the planet, their own hometown.
The city has been driven to a virtual standstill. Stores, banks, rail systems and the airport are subjected to frequent closures. And now that emergency law has been imposed heightening anger, the prognosis for a peaceful resolution has dimmed.
The police outnumbered and unable to cope have now resorted to using live ammunition. If this grave situation spirals further, it is surely only a matter of time before China is obliged to make a move despite its reluctance.
What began as a largely peaceful protest against a new extradition bill that was subsequently quashed in response to protesters’ demands has morphed into calls for independence from China. Chinese flags have been defaced, visiting Chinese officials attacked and chants asking the United States to intervene are common.