How the US Uses Protests in Hong Kong
On June 16, it became quite obvious that the wave of street protests in Hong Kong last week that swept through Hong Kong was not a local, but a large-scale and systemic phenomenon that will continue. According to the organizers of the protest, about two million people went to the Sunday demonstrations. And this is very serious.
The demonstrators blocked traffic in the city center, literally flooded all the streets and demanded to cancel consideration of the draft law on forced extradition, providing for sending suspects to mainland China. The Hong Kong Police Department stated that it could not fail to respond to another wave of destructive protest: law enforcement officers used tear gas and rubber bullets.
The United States is closely monitoring developments. Last week there was information that Washington could recognize Hong Kong as a sovereign territory and build trade relations with it, bypassing Beijing. The Chinese authorities, in response, called on the United States not to interfere in the internal affairs of the country and not to turn Hong Kong into another hot spot.
Meanwhile, the American side is seriously aggravating the situation - China is accused of violating the freedoms of Hong Kong residents, the brutal dispersal of demonstrators and they note that Hong Kong seriously complicates the life of the opponent of US President Donald Trump in the trade war - PRC Chairman Xi Jinping. How explosive is the situation in Hong Kong and to what extent can Washington use it to its advantage?
Two million dissatisfied citizens
Sunday's protests in Hong Kong, indeed, looked very ambitious. For seven million Hong Kong, 2 million protesters are almost a third of the population. They gathered in the city center and marched to the office of the head of the Hong Kong administration, Carrie Lam.
The protesters demanded that she withdraw her consideration of the extradition law and called for Lam to resign. In response
police used rubber bullets and tear gas. The crowd then scattered a little, some of the protesters broke up into groups and continued chanting slogans, some calling for the march to continue on Monday.
These protests were a continuation of the demonstrations on Wednesday, June 12, when the police also had to use force - pepper gas, batons and rubber bullets. As a result, 72 people were injured, the police detained 11 people.
Sunday protests went a different scenario and gave the result. Six hours after the demonstrators broke up, the head of the Hong Kong administration, Carrie Lamb, made a public apology for the “mistreatment” of the extradition law. Before that, on Saturday, she froze his consideration. However, as soon as the situation began to calm down, it began to swing in the United States.
US play their card
So, the Wall Street Journal writes that demonstrations in Hong Kong will have serious consequences:
Instability in Hong Kong is Beijing’s Achilles heel, the paper’s authors believe. According to them, the days of Carrie Lam in power, probably already numbered, and the United States will now have many questions to Xi Jinping....
Other central American publications literally savor the new problems of Xi Jinping and resent the "trampling on the freedoms" of Hong Kong residents.
At the same time, the South China Morning Post writes that the United States will certainly play the Hong Kong card in its confrontation with China.
In fact, things are a little different from what the American media describe and how they see the situation in Washington. The fact is that in Beijing they surprisingly calmly reacted to the decision of the Hong Kong authorities to “sabotage” the adoption of the extradition bill:
"We express support, respect and understanding of this decision," - said in a statement the Office of the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong at the State Council of China.
Washington hoped that China would take a tough stance and would not go to meet the demonstrators, that the protests would increase, and the police would begin to act harder. Against this background, there will be a meeting between Trump and Xi Jinping, and the Chinese leader will have to “hold the answer” in connection with what is happening.
In China, meanwhile, it has already been noted that Washington is trying to sway the situation on the streets of Hong Kong, and the American representatives can act not only by political means. On Friday, June 14, the Chinese authorities summoned the deputy head of the US mission in Beijing, Robert Forden, and handed him a note of protest against Washington’s interference in China’s internal affairs in connection with the Hong Kong situation.
On Sunday, after apologies from Carrie Lam, the demonstrators released the main streets of the city. The South China Morning Post writes that there are still hundreds of people on the main streets, but they do not hold a general demonstration.
Thus, the conversation of Trump and Xi Jinping at the G20 summit about the situation in Hong Kong risks not being as tense as they would like in Washington. Demonstrations were suspended, Hong Kong authorities reached a sort of truce with the protesters, freezing consideration of the bill, the head of autonomy apologized, there were no victims, and most importantly, Beijing calmly responded to the decision of the Hong Kong administration to postpone the adoption of the law. De facto, the US has nothing to show China in connection with this situation, but Washington will wait for the moment. A little less than two weeks left before the G20 summit in Osaka.