23 February 2019
Global media call Occupy Central the "Umbrella Movement" as protesters use the tool to shield themselves from pepper spray. Photo: Reuters
Global media call Occupy Central the "Umbrella Movement" as protesters use the tool to shield themselves from pepper spray. Photo: Reuters

Umbrellas and a desire for democracy: The people have spoken

Many Hong Kong people are now asking: What next after Occupy Central?

No doubt Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has struck a low blow in deploying riot police who fired tear gas at protesters who were armed only with umbrellas and a desire for democracy.

He has come under fire from many members of the Executive Council, the government’s top decision-making body.

That’s why Leung on Monday changed tack, taking a softer stance in hopes that Occupy Central, or the so-called “Umbrella Movement”, will lose focus or be washed out by bad weather and unforeseen accidents.

He will be disappointed.

The protesters’ call is loud and clear: CY Leung, step down.  

Going by past record, Beijing is unlikely to make such a move — sacking Leung — in the short term. For now, the central government will wait and see

In Beijing’s view, removing a Hong Kong chief executive will mean losing face, signalling Chinese leaders have failed to rule the special administrative region as wisely as the British. Some hawkish elements will also argue that removing Leung will threaten political stability in other Chinese cities.

Even with 500,000 protesters on the streets in the July 1 march in 2003, it took Beijing 21 months to finally “accept” Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa’s resignation. That period was a buffer to blur the link between the two events.

Whether the Hong Kong government will become a lame-duck administration or whether the city will lose its competitive edge will not be a factor in any Beijing decision.

Beijing does not care. 

So what’s the best strategy for protesters? 

Stay calm and protest peacefully.

Protesters must maintain order and beware of those who are out to cause trouble.

Occupy Central should encourage as many people as possible to join the super “Occupy Hong Kong” movement on October 1, China’s National Day, and hopefully force Beijing into making a decision in the late evening. 

What could be the possible outcome? It depends on the number of protesters. We try to read Beijing’s mind and hazard a guess: 

100,000 people — Beijing continues its wait-and-see strategy;

200,000 people — Security Bureau chief Lai Tung-kwok resigns and bears responsibility for the use of tear gas. Leung apologizes;

500,000 people — Leung resigns (immediately or on a designated date).

Should protesters occupy government buildings or People’s Liberation Army bases? 

It’s not a wise move as it will give Beijing an excuse to declare martial law in Hong Kong. 

–Contact us at [email protected] 


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