China sounded a warning to Hong Kongers that it could deploy troops garrisoned in the city to maintain order if things get out of hand. This came as pro-democracy protesters, seen by Beijing as radicals, pushed the envelope on Sunday by vandalising the facade of the central government Liaison Office building and defacing the national symbol. The People’s Liberation Army described it as an intolerable act that challenges the bottom line of the “one country, two systems” framework under which Hong Kong is governed. On Wednesday, protesters disrupted trains during the morning rush hour. It was in apparent retaliation for another Sunday incident when passengers at a train station and protesters returning from a demonstration were set upon and beaten by stick-wielding men. More protests have been planned – yesterday at the airport, and one today in Yuen Long where Sunday’s attacks occurred. Police have banned the latter event, fearing battles between anti-government protesters and supporters of the city’s government and Beijing. But protesters might still proceed as planned.
Hong Kong appears dangerously close to the brink with protests intensifying again after a lull that followed the July 1 storming of the Legislative Council building. There is considerable anger and frustration among protesters, who lament that Chief Executive Carrie Lam has not given in to any of their demands, and despite the mass rallies. The government suspended the controversial extradition Bill – the catalyst for the protests as Hong Kongers fear it will curtail their freedoms. But protesters want it withdrawn fully and demand an independent inquiry into police brutality during the June 12 siege of the LegCo, among other things. Rallies have been largely peaceful, but some descended into mayhem as groups clashed with police.