Foreign Ministry spokeswoman in Beijing said that the Hong Kong activists should study Chinese history, “Those who have become accomplices of foreign forces has come to a good end?” She asked rhetorically on Friday.
She criticized the recent act of protesters, on Friday several thousand black-clad demonstrators gathered at Hong Kong airport to inform foreign travelers about the goals of the protest movement. Thus, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman warns that the “move for external forces to intervene in Hong Kong affairs”.
The UK State Department issued a warning to travelers on Friday that their flights could be affected by the demonstration. Although no flight canceled, the activists run the risk of losing sympathy in the Hong Kong business world. This is also the aim of the central government in Beijing.
In the censored Chinese Internet, commentary on the demonstrators at the airport was broadcast on a large scale. According to the social network Weibo, they were read by more than 30 million users. The activists were denigrated as “garbage” and “criminal” in it. Some commentators demanded high penalties for them. Among the demonstrators were also members of a union of the airline crew Cathy Pacific, which prompted calls on the Internet to exclude the company from the Chinese market.
This shows that the Chinese leadership has changed its approach to the political crisis in Hong Kong. For weeks, the censorship authority had deleted all references to the protests in the special region from the Internet. The party media had largely ignored the events. In contrast, the protest movement is now targeted by official and unofficial sources defamed.
Beijing has also changed its political distance to the events. Until recently, the Chinese leadership wanted the responsibility for the political crisis to be attributed to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam. The stance has changed abruptly this week as the Department of Defense pondered publicly about the possibility of deploying the People’s Liberation Army – provided that Hong Kong was asking for support. The Hong Kong government has now made it clear that it does not intend to call the army to help.
One of the pro-Beijing agitators Hong Kong MP Junius Ho, did not stop that from pouring oil into the fire, suspected of collaborating with the thugs last Sunday, told the activist in a video, “Which way is ahead of you? One way is to stay alive. Another is not to stay alive. You have the choice. Decide soon”.
The city is worried that this weekend could lead to a new escalation of violence. Although the police have banned a demonstration scheduled for Saturday, many activists have already announced they will gather in Yuen Long district. There, dozens of masked men in a subway with metal poles and bamboo sticks had hit passers-by, some of whom had returned from a demonstration in the city center. There were 45 injured. The police justified the cancellation with concerns of the local residents and alleged plans of activists to attack a village, from which members of the mafia group should have been involved in the beating attack.
The fear of new violence goes so far that the leaders of eleven Hong Kong universities wrote to their students to stay away from the banned demonstration. “As the situation continues to flow and can become extremely volatile and dangerous, we want to urge you to abstain from it for your own safety,” the letter said. There are fears that fighting between demonstrators and residents of the district could occur. Yuen Long is relatively rural and is close to the Chinese mainland border. Many of the residents there are supporters of the central government in Beijing.
It is also feared that members of mafia groups could take action against the demonstrators. On the Chinese mainland it happens again and again that paid thugs are used against political opponents. The Hong Kong triads, as the mafia is called here, had been used by five years ago against umbrage activists to intimidate them. According to the will of the demonstrators, this ban on the ban on the demonstration this Saturday is the signal that we are not intimidated.