As the protests in Hong Kong continue, the local administration seems to be leaving no stone unturned in portraying the protestors as “extremely aggressive.” In some instances of completely disregarding the rule of law, the Carrie Lam administration declares protestors violent even before they commit any such acts. Rather, it is the Hong Kong police who tend to be violent.
Early this month, the Hong Kong police arrested a student leader for possessing laser pens. Demonstrators have been known to use laser pens to block the vision of police officers who stand on the front lines. However, the officials have termed the device as a “laser gun” since it can apparently damage the skin and eyes.
The interesting thing is that the student leader, Keith Fong from the Baptist University, was arrested not because he used the pen to attack any police officer. Instead, the police took him into custody as soon as he bought the 10 laser pens from a shop. Reacting to the arrest, the protestors held a laser show. “I’m so angry, the student was just buying [laser] pens. How can the police arrest him without other evidence or information? We are doing this to tell others that possessing a pen doesn’t mean having an offensive weapon, it has other purposes,” a protestor told France 24.
In another incident, the Chinese government accused the U.S. of triggering the Hong Kong protests after a newspaper published a photo of a U.S. diplomat talking with local student leaders. The Chinese paper published the personal details of the diplomat, thereby putting the person at risk. Morgan Ortagus, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, called the Chinese government a “thuggish regime” following the report. “I don’t think that leaking an American diplomat’s private information, pictures, names of their children — I don’t think that is a formal protest … That is not how a responsible nation would behave,” she said in a statement (Reuters).
In both instances, the governments of Hong Kong and Beijing have tried to depict the protestors as “acting on behest of a foreign power” without providing any actual proof to support the claim. While Keith was arrested even though he never attacked anyone with a laser pen, the student leaders who talked with the U.S. diplomat were depicted as “traitors” even though the content of their discussion is not known.
In the U.S., Hong Kong protestors are gaining increasing support from lawmakers. Senator Lindsay Graham called the protests the defining moment of U.S.-China relations and drew parallels with the Tiananmen Square protests. U.S. Senator Mitt Romney stated that the Hong Kong demonstrators were exposing China’s ruthless censorship policies.
U.S. Representative Dan Crenshaw saw similarities between the protests in Hong Kong and the situation in America. “America is proof that democracy is worth fighting for. Protesters in Hong Kong are fighting for that same reason. Even in the face of China’s aggression & police brutality, they’re standing by their worthy cause. We hear their demands for freedom & support them in their mission,” he said in a tweet.
President Trump has asked Beijing to deal with the Hong Kong issue in a humane way and indicated that it would have an effect on the trade deal between the two superpowers. Media reports suggest that Beijing is stationing military alongside Hong Kong borders, with a possible crackdown on the protestors very likely.