Date
21 August 2019
Protesters gather outside the Legislative Council complex before sunrise on June 12. The administration is attempting to set the tone for any upcoming talks with the protesters. Photo: Bloomberg
Protesters gather outside the Legislative Council complex before sunrise on June 12. The administration is attempting to set the tone for any upcoming talks with the protesters. Photo: Bloomberg

Citizens versus government: the final battleground

The civil unrest in Hong Kong still remains a resistance movement rather than a revolution at this stage, with the “peaceful, rational and non-violent” approach still being the main theme of the protesters.

That said, I believe the final battleground of the entire resistance campaign will inevitably be at the negotiation table.

However, it appears that the administration has already gained the upper hand even before the start of any actual negotiation.

Government officials are supremely confident that they have a firm grip on every bit of information about the decision-making process not only in the government but also among participants of the resistance movement.

And that explains why Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her principal officials, during a press conference on Aug. 5, still blatantly ignored the protesters’ demand for the government to officially withdraw the extradition bill and establish an independent commission of inquiry.

In my view, what the government is doing right now is trying to gain an advantage over protesters in the final negotiation by using the “anchoring effect”.

To put it more precisely, the administration is attempting to set the tone for any upcoming talks before members of the public can agree on how to respond by putting forward a set of very low and even unacceptable terms.

And by repeatedly stating that “the bill is dead” and prioritizing the restoration of social stability, it seems the government has already succeeded in gaining the initiative.

Given that, I believe the degree to which our citizens are able to get a grip on the information about the decision-making process both in the administration and among themselves, as well as their ability to come up with an alternative option that can, at least, end the current political deadlock, would determine whether they can turn the tables on Lam and her regime.

Otherwise, there simply would be no end in sight for the violent clashes between protesters and the police, and the people will continue to be on a collision course with the government.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 12

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/CG

HKEJ contributor

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