A prominent Hong Kong politician has expressed fears that a “mini-Tiananmen” could unfold as a result of the unrest in the city, invoking memories of the brutal 1989 Chinese government crackdown on student demonstrators which resulted in hundreds of deaths.
Lau Suk-yee, who is a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong and a former prominent government official of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, criticized the protest movement, labeling activists “uncivil and uncivillised” for disrespecting police and government officials.
Tens of thousands of people continue to crowd the streets of Hong Kong after police used tear gas and batons to disperse demonstrators. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was also forced to deny rumors that the Chinese army was getting ready to be deployed.
“They remind you of Tiananmen – the protesters asking for dialogue with the chief executive and surrounding the Chief Executive’s Office … If the police are driven to disperse them by force, it could turn sour and sinister,” Suk-yee told the South China Morning Post, adding, “I think the worry on the part of the Hong Kong government is, what if it becomes a mini-Tiananmen? Who is behind it?”
Suk-yee, who represents the pro-China New People’s Party, also accused her political adversaries of stirring up the unrest.
Suk-yee said that despite the ferocity of the protests, the demonstrations were unlikely to force China into changing a policy it imposed last month under which Hong Kongers must choose their next leader from a pool of hand picked candidates who have already declared their “love” for the Chinese Communist Party.
China reacted negatively to a UK foreign office press release expressing its concern at the heavy-handed treatment of protesters, warning the international community not to “interfere” in Beijing’s domestic issues.
Under the 1997 agreement which saw Britain relinquish control of Hong Kong, the city is supposed to remain as a “special administrative region” with guaranteed political and electoral freedoms until at least 2047. However, last month Chinese officials published a white paper in which they asserted that Hong Kong’s constitutional autonomy was not “an inherent power.”