08/10/2019, 08.00
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Willy Lam: China will not send soldiers to Hong Kong before October

For the veteran political commentator and journalist, Xi Jinping is too eager to "look good" before the world and cannot “lose face” before the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. Organised crime groups and the Chinese police are working together. Riot police from Guangdong have been incorporated within Hong Kong police. The awakening of civil society and religious communities in China is pushing the regime towards repression, but its days are numbered.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/RFA) – China’s People’s Liberation Army will not intervene in response to the tensions sparked by Hong Kong’s extradition bill, at least not until 1st October, 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, this according to Willy Lam, a veteran political commentator and journalist who teaches at Hong Kong’s Chinese University.

In his view, Xi Jinping is too eager to "look good" in front of the world and cannot afford a "loss of face" with a military intervention that would end the "one country, two systems" principle on which Hong Kong’s liberal model is based.

At the same, Chinese police from Guangdong have already been included in the ranks of Hong Kong police, wearing their uniforms, in order to stop what for Beijing has become a dangerous "colour revolution".

Here is the full text of Willy Lam's interview with the RFA’s Cantonese Service.

RFA: So, will Beijing send in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to control unrest in Hong Kong?

Lam: I can say for certain that Xi Jinping isn't even going to consider sending in the PLA before the Oct. 1 National Day celebrations. The reason is very simple: On Oct. 1, they will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, and President Xi has already arranged for the biggest ever display of military strength on Tiananmen Square. Any deployment of the PLA in Hong Kong before that date would spoil the festive atmosphere, because it would signal the end of the framework of one country, two systems. It would also diminish China in the eyes of the world, and be a loss of face for President Xi.

The entire state machinery for maintaining stability, that's to say the machinery of the police state, began under [former presidents] Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, but it has become much more powerful since Xi Jinping took power. It now incorporates high-tech features, like artificial intelligence and big data, and the social credit system. So, there are many ways in which we can say that the machinery of the police state has already crossed the Shenzhen River into Hong Kong. The clearest example of that is the deployment of a large number of mainland police officers in Hong Kong, after Beijing decided the protests were a colour revolution at the beginning of June. The ranks of the Hong Kong riot police now include anti-riot police from the north, who are wearing the uniforms of the Hong Kong police.

RFA: So, what about the people in white shirts who attacked the protesters in black shirts in North Point, where people were surrounding the police station?

Lam: Cooperation between the Chinese police and triad organizations goes back many decades, and the mainland Chinese police and armed police forces have always used them to deal with problems that can't be allowed to see the light of day. For example, the use of violence to take land from farmers. This allows them to evade legal responsibility. But we haven't seen this kind of large-scale collusion between police and triad gangs in Hong Kong to target ordinary citizens in more than a century.

The anti-extradition movement in Hong Kong has become a black swan incident for mainland China. Ever since a million people took to the streets on June 9, the whole of Hong Kong society, at every level and in every sector, has been united against the government. Now the movement has broadened into a demand for fully democratic elections. Xi Jinping's main worry right now is how to deploy the machinery of stability maintenance to bring Hong Kong to heel.

RFA: But now the Chinese economy is having problems, isn't it?

Lam: China is facing a serious financial crisis and it is basically insolvent, so Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre is more important to China than ever. The Chinese government may also start to demand a "public-private partnership" with the Hong Kong economy. But Hong Kong people won't just demand genuine universal suffrage; they will also extend this struggle to economic and financial activity. More and more middle-class businesspeople will be breaking their silence.

And even though the [ruling] Chinese Communist Party keeps suppressing them, there are more and more civil organizations springing up in mainland China all the time. For example, the number of Protestants and Catholics may exceed the number of communists nationwide. Then you have the groups of veterans who often demonstrate, you have a large number of grievances at home, and then there is resistance in Hong Kong. This isn't something that can be solved in the long term using the machinery of stability maintenance. The greater the pressure, the greater the resistance will be.

The continued struggle of the people of Hong Kong over the past few weeks has inspired civil society in mainland China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and the rest of the world. I predict that the stability maintenance regime of the Chinese Communist Party dictatorship won't stay effective for very long.

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