Date
5 December 2019
Protesters set a barricade on fire as they demonstrate in Central on Monday. Photo: Reuters
Protesters set a barricade on fire as they demonstrate in Central on Monday. Photo: Reuters

How can we break the vicious circle of violence?

The situation in our city has continued to deteriorate. On Monday morning, a traffic police officer fired live rounds including one hitting and wounding a protester in Sai Wan Ho, while a man of different political views was set on fire in Ma On Shan.

Amid the escalating violence, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor held a press conference on Monday evening, during which she denounced the violent acts committed by rioters, and reiterated that violence cannot solve any problem but will only breed more violence.

Perhaps nobody would disagree with what the chief executive said, and there is now already an unmistakable consensus in society that the ongoing violence must stop.

But the question remains: how can we stop it?

Hong Kong is caught in a weird and vicious circle of violence: while protesters are escalating their violence as a result of the government’s refusal to meet their demands, law enforcement has no choice but to adopt a higher level of force in response.

And as Lam insists that the government will never yield to pressure to satisfy the protesters’ so-called political demands, violence between the police and protesters will only continue to spiral, thereby giving rise to the circle of violence.

As the tit-for-tat between protesters and the police shows no signs of easing, no one can tell where Hong Kong will be headed for in the days ahead.

Worse still, while there is no end in sight for the turmoil, all Lam does is utter the same statement over and over again that violence cannot resolve any problem, thereby further fueling the fury of the protesters.

Perhaps all we can do at this point is to wait for the District Council elections scheduled for Nov. 24, which, if not postponed or cancelled, may provide us with some useful indicators of public opinion and, hopefully, some insights into how we can resolve the current crisis.

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

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal