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Hong Kong Protests Continue With Major Crackdown Looming

The pro-democracy protests known as Occupy Central have continued on despite constant attacks from Hong Kong authorities in the form of police or undercover agitators. But after weeks of depressed economic activity in one of the richest and most productive areas in the world it appears the authorities are preparing for a major crackdown after their more traditional methods have failed to break the protests.

The goal of the protests was to force Beijing to back off its plan to control the 2017 elections in Hong Kong by having the Chinese Communist Party decide who could and could not be a candidate. Thus far Beijing has refused to reconsider the plan and has officially denounced the protesters

With Beijing doubling down and the protesters refusing to give up despite being tear gassed and pepper sprayed the Hong Kong authorities appear ready to escalate the violence.

After a flare-up of violence between Hong Kong police and pro-democracy demonstrators Saturday, government officials and protest leaders alike warned that the situation was heading toward a breaking point. Demonstrators remained encamped around government headquarters in the Admiralty district and had reoccupied streets in the dense commercial Mong Kok area. Police had cleared the Mong Kok sit-in early Friday, but demonstrators returned later in the day and took back control of several key streets, clashing with officers throughout the night.

Speaking out after 26 people were arrested and dozens injured in Mong Kok early Saturday, Hong Kong Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said police had been “extremely tolerant” and that protesters’ increasingly “illegal acts are undermining the rule of law.” “These violations are … destroying Hong Kong,” he said, adding that schools, businesses and hospitals had been disrupted.

How long can the elite of Hong Kong afford to have commerce shutdown and how long will Beijing allow itself to lose face? The statements from the police commissioner and analysis from leaders on both sides suggest the status quo of shutdown highways and nightly police clashes is not sustainable much longer. The protesters have so far refused to give up.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Hong Kong Protests Continue With Major Crackdown Looming

The pro-democracy protests known as Occupy Central have continued on despite constant attacks from Hong Kong authorities in the form of police or undercover agitators. But after weeks of depressed economic activity in one of the richest and most productive areas in the world it appears the authorities are preparing for a major crackdown after their more traditional methods have failed to break the protests.

The goal of the protests was to force Beijing to back off its plan to control the 2017 elections in Hong Kong by having the Chinese Communist Party decide who could and could not be a candidate. Thus far Beijing has refused to reconsider the plan and has officially denounced the protesters

With Beijing doubling down and the protesters refusing to give up despite being tear gassed and pepper sprayed the Hong Kong authorities appear ready to escalate the violence.

After a flare-up of violence between Hong Kong police and pro-democracy demonstrators Saturday, government officials and protest leaders alike warned that the situation was heading toward a breaking point. Demonstrators remained encamped around government headquarters in the Admiralty district and had reoccupied streets in the dense commercial Mong Kok area. Police had cleared the Mong Kok sit-in early Friday, but demonstrators returned later in the day and took back control of several key streets, clashing with officers throughout the night.

Speaking out after 26 people were arrested and dozens injured in Mong Kok early Saturday, Hong Kong Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said police had been “extremely tolerant” and that protesters’ increasingly “illegal acts are undermining the rule of law.” “These violations are … destroying Hong Kong,” he said, adding that schools, businesses and hospitals had been disrupted.

How long can the elite of Hong Kong afford to have commerce shutdown and how long will Beijing allow itself to lose face? The statements from the police commissioner and analysis from leaders on both sides suggest the status quo of shutdown highways and nightly police clashes is not sustainable much longer. The protesters have so far refused to give up.

A video of police beating a protester has forced Hong Kong authorities into talks with protesters, but the central issue is not really something the Hong Kong authorities can do much about unless they are willing to break an agreement with Beijing. But breaking such an agreement would likely lead to dire consequences for the Hong Kong authorities as well as the same outcome – the selection of political leaders in Hong Kong by Beijing.

Beijing seems to be losing patience with the Hong Kong authorities who, in turn, seem to be recognizing that their traditional methods of breaking up public meetings are failing against determined protesters. For the authorities in Hong Kong breaking up Occupy Central is now a matter of survival.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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