Friday, 12 February 2016

Beijing's Delayed Reaction

"Rioters" in Mongkok have been branded "separatists" by Beijing
Four days after the Mongkok "riots", Beijing has finally spoken out, and the language it used isn't pretty.

"On the early morning of February 9, a riot plotted mainly by local radical separatist organization rocked Mongkok, Hong Kong," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei in an official statement, that did not specify whether one or more such organizations were involved.

For China to call the Mongkok protesters "separatists" puts them in the same league as the supposed separatists from Tibet and Xinjiang, that are seen as a serious threat to national security.

China-watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said it was unprecedented for the Chinese government to use the word separatists for Hong Kong. He called it a "wrong" categorization that would lead to unnecessary escalation of anti-mainland sentiment, as Beijing previously described Taiwan-independence advocates as "separatists".

The police felt they we unprepared for Monday night
The Chinese government defines separatist as "one level less serious" than "secessionist", and so if the situation gets worse, says Lau, Beijing could "conclude secessionist elements exist in the city".

China's Communist Party sees secession, terrorism and extreme religious forces as three core threats that must be eradicated.

Hong reiterated how some of the rioters had set up roadblocks, set objects on fire, damaged police vehicles, hurled bricks at police officers and assaulted injured officers lying on the ground.

The foreign ministry spokesman expressed "strong condemnation" of the violence, while giving firm support to Hong Kong police in acting "professionally and with self-restraint", adding the "riot" was "swiftly" ended.

Meanwhile some front line police officers who endured the glass bottles, garbage cans and bricks hurled at them were disappointed with senior management as over 90 officers were injured.

They felt they were completely unprepared for what happened on Monday night.

"Traffic officers had the least gear and they were at the very front to handle the armed rioters," one unnamed officer said. "What a joke!"

"That night was 10 times worse than any of the scenes during the Occupy movement. Why couldn't we use tear gas?"

He wondered if there was a political decision for not using tear gas -- possibly because they got so much flak for unleashing some 79 canisters when the Occupy movement erupted in September 2014.

The officer even suggested the police should have used rubber bullets in Mongkok. "The top management just can't feel the pain we suffered and the danger we faced. After all, they were sitting in their offices."

Ouch.

Seems like all is not well with the force...

With Beijing using dangerous language, this is definitely going to make localists puff up their chests with pride to get such attention.

But this is only going to create more tensions in the city and that's the last thing we need...

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