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Callous condoning of HK violence

China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-08-14 07:11

Having been forced to temporarily shut down the airport on Monday after thousands of demonstrators swarmed the main terminal building, the Hong Kong airport authority canceled most departures on Tuesday due to a second day of protests. The disruption at the airport, a key economic artery of the international financial hub, has helped people see the true nature of their campaign.

For all the well-worded narratives, the demonstrators are trying to hold Hong Kong's prosperity and the well-being of its residents to political ransom. They have been targeting key thoroughfares, the mass transit rail system, the airport and commercial areas with the intention of disrupting economic activities. Weeks of violence have had an adverse impact on retail sales and inbound tourism, with both local consumer sentiment and visitor arrivals sagging. Some employees in the tourism sector have been reportedly forced to take unpaid leave, while business leaders have warned of potentially massive layoffs in the hospitality industry.

Worse, the violent acts of radical demonstrators have damaged Hong Kong's reputation as one of the safest cities in the world. Any further deterioration in the situation could trigger an exodus of both capital and talents, pushing the city down a path of no return, as Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chief executive of the special administrative region, warned on Tuesday.

Every Hong Kong resident would be a loser should the city enter a permanent decline.

Of course, foreign politicians such as US Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who have an axe to grind with China, could not care less about Hong Kong's future and the well-being of its people. After all, they still have New York and London, even Zurich or Frankfurt, should Hong Kong cease to be an international financial center. To them, messing up Hong Kong is just part and parcel of containing China's rise, and any negative impacts on the lives of Hong Kong residents is just unavoidable collateral damage.

It is telling that Western critics of the SAR's efforts to maintain law and order conveniently ignore the crackdowns on the Occupy Wall Street, Extinction Rebellion and yellow vest protests in New York, London and Paris. With the world watching, law enforcers cracked down on the protesters in those places with much higher level of forces and arrested thousands of the protesters. The callous hypocrisy they display is repulsive, to say the least.

If the condoning of the violence persists, the rioters will only go to further extremes. Only by restoring stability can Hong Kong begin to repair its image and the damage done to its society and economy.

(China Daily Global 08/14/2019 page11)

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