After months of pro-democracy protests and thousands of arrests, Hong Kong appears to be inching toward authoritarian control and there is little the United States can do, says a national security analyst.
The street protests in Hong Kong, which began in March over an extradition bill, have become a daily news segment showing police officers tussling with masked demonstrators in streets and subways.
But there are signs the Communist Party has grown tired of the unrest, The Associated Press reported this week, including introducing “anti-subversion” laws in the semi-autonomous territory.
Gordon Chang, a popular expert on China and its communist regime, has stated repeatedly China’s leaders are greatly concerned about the spread of the pro-democracy movement, which has evolved from demonstrations to a revolution demanding freedom from their communist leaders in Beijing.
A key face of the faceoff is Carrie Lam, the China-approved leader of Hong Kong, who pulled the extradition bill over public protest but in recent days vowed to “spare no effort” to end the protests.
“I do not want to go into details,” Lam told the media, “but I just want to make it very clear that we will spare no effort in finding ways and means that could end the violence in Hong Kong as soon as possible.”
If the world was ignoring the protests, it likely began watching them closely this week after a Hong Kong police officer, while wrestling one protester, drew his revolver and shot a second person as he approached the officer. That encounter was recorded.
In a second horrific video, a counter-protester was seen arguing with protesters when someone doused him with a flammable liquid and set him on fire.
“I do believe, if we are not careful,” says Family Research Council analyst Bob Maginnis, “we'll see a repeat of 1989 and the Tiananmen Square and the disaster there.”
It appears the Chinese government is not backing down, Maginnis observes, so there could soon be “thousands and thousands” of Chinese police pouring into Hong Kong to end the protests for good.
“And, of course, that will cause a lot of tongue lashing across the world,” he adds, “but the Chinese will be prevail."
And what about the United States? A military fight against China on behalf of Hong Kong, and even a future fight in Taiwan, is probably a “bridge too far” for the U.S., he predicts.