Airport turmoil shows the city is on a very slippery slope
Just a few days ago, Hong Kong dodged a bullet — literally. Why do I say this? First, because nobody got shot even though we were just a hair trigger from such a tragic event.
If you've seen the video footage of protesters trying to take a baton away from a lone policeman at the airport, forcing him to the ground, and finally backing off when the policeman pulled his service revolver, you will understand what I mean.
The policeman involved deserves a medal. He kept his cool even though he appeared to be disoriented or injured. And despite the intense danger of the moment, he did not pull the trigger. As a matter of fact, the first shot has yet to be fired in anger from a police revolver despite so many of them having come under violent attack from rioters over the last two months. If nothing else, this speaks volumes about the discipline of Hong Kong's police officers.
This is an important symbol of what makes Hong Kong special. Make no mistake, if a policeman in the United States had been attacked in this way, there would have been no hesitation. He would have emptied his magazine, and today we would be grieving and discussing the body count.
Some of the protesters have come out with a public apology for what happened at the airport. They claimed to be frustrated and exhausted, and that this has led to poor judgment and the boiling-over of emotions.
Sadly, this is far too little. I hope, for the sake of Hong Kong, that it is not too late.
As a society, we must unequivocally condemn such violence. The protesters need to totally disavow all such violence going forward. If they cannot 100 percent guarantee that protests will remain peaceful henceforth, then they should simply stay at home.
Beating up people just because they are from the Chinese mainland is totally unacceptable. Beating up reporters, or attacking the police, is unacceptable. Why? Because violence begets violence. And this will destroy Hong Kong.
So, what to do about the violence that has already occurred? The protesters making the apology need to go far beyond just apologizing. Perhaps they could for a moment put themselves in the shoes of the Hong Kong police and the Hong Kong government. They could perhaps for a moment reflect on the levels of stress, fatigue, and frustration being experienced by people in those roles over the last several months. If they were to do this, they might understand that there is no "evil" afoot here. It's simply normal people doing their best for Hong Kong, and making mistakes in judgment and action just as the protesters admit having done at the airport.
And then, they should consider dropping all preconditions, and agreeing to sit down and dialogue with the various different parties involved in this mess with the intention of creating a meaningful path forward.
But we also need to dig deeper. Why did the violence break out in this way? What happened to those many tens of thousands of peaceful, patient people that we saw some weeks back? Yes, there is fatigue and frustration. But I think there is more going on.
Perhaps some people think that a violent revolution in Hong Kong will spread into the Chinese mainland and turn the Chinese mainland into a Western-style democracy. To those people I say: "Dream on." Hoping that "violent revolution" in Hong Kong is somehow going to democratize the Chinese mainland is a child's fantasy. Any violence that happens in Hong Kong will only hurt Hong Kong. So, if you love Hong Kong, stop the violence.
And there's something even deeper.
I'm seeing on Twitter reports of protesters getting paid by "someone". The going rate is HK$8,000 ($1,020) per day just to show up and protest. And it's $10,000 for injuring or killing a member of the Hong Kong police force.
Is this fact, rumor, or Hong Kong government psychological operations? I don't know for sure. What I do know for sure is that the US government funded riots and a coup in Venezuela with the goal of regime change. And there are others. Color revolutions in various countries over the past few years have been traced back to US financial and logistical backing, with clear documentation from organizations such as WikiLeaks showing this to be the case. We know that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is in Belmarsh prison in London, with the US trying to extradite him on charges of espionage simply for publishing information about US war crimes. So it's not too far-fetched to hypothesize that there are, indeed, "black hands" behind the violence that we have seen last week in Hong Kong.
Anybody who truly cares about Hong Kong will never take money in order to either "show up" for a protest, or perpetrate any form of violence. A person who cares about Hong Kong will not beat up civilians from other places as they are passing through our airport!
Let me be very clear. Anybody taking money to protest violently in Hong Kong is an enemy of this great city. Period,any protesters who truly care about Hong Kong should identify and totally reject every single person identified as serving the interests of groups or individuals from outside Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is one of the best cities in the world. The violence we have seen does not represent Hong Kong. But, if it continues, it will harm Hong Kong very badly. We are on a very slippery slope, and we must get off before it's too late.
The author is a psychologist, linguist, educator, entrepreneur, dialogue facilitator and corporate adviser with over 30 years' experience doing business in Asia.