19th August 2019 – (Hong Kong) Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, the organisation under the Chinese Party’s Central Committee responsible for political and legal affairs published an article yesterday to accuse Jimmy Lai, Martin Lee , Anson Chan and Albert Ho (chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China) as the ‘ HK Trouble – Gang of 4’ who led Hong Kong into destruction.
In defiance of police order, Jimmy Lai was seen leading the protest pack in an illegal street rally from Victoria Garden towards Chater Garden in Central yesterday. Along the way, he told protesters to move faster and not to obstruct the way. He was charging forward like an army troop commander while bracing the rain. When asked by reporters as to whether the Beijing government would send in their troops, he replied by saying they wouldn’t dare because the whole world would condemn them if they did. He then left at 5pm after the entourage reached Central.
It is increasingly obvious that Jimmy is not afraid of persecution by the Beijing Government as he has the backing of the U.S. Government. By leading an illegal street rally, he was openly challenging the police to arrest him. In the past, he was arrested for orchestrating OCCUPY CENTRAL in 2014 and more recently, Department of Justice was accused of delaying a charge against him for intimidating an Oriental Daily reporter. According to Section 17a of the Public Order Ordinance, a maximum sentence of 5 years and fine will be imposed on anyone who participates in an illegal assembly of over 30 people.
Meanwhile, apart from blocking several roads including Harcourt Road, firing slingshots at government headquarters and flashing laser pointers at officers guarding the premises, frontline protesters did not engage in grievous actions that would undermine the safety of other civilians including barricading roads/Cross Harbour Tunnel, besieging police stations, setting fire to objects, hurling molotov cocktails and bricks. None of the frontline protesters initiated such actions yesterday. They were surprisingly ‘peaceful’. The question is why?
After several weeks of violent attacks by the small faction of frontline protesters via major disruptions in the city including occupying the airport, the public support for their cause has dwindled. It was evident in most of the recent districtwide protests, only several thousands turned up as most other genuine protesters were worried about the violent clashes potentially taking place at the end of each protest. In one of our articles, we dissected the term ‘anti-extradition protesters’ into two general factions i.e. the genuine protesters (the mass) and the funded frontline protesters. Hence, the total number of genuine protesters has reduced significantly in the past few weeks in the wake of intensified violence. We have particularly defined the frontline protesters as solders as they were potentially trained : READ HERE.
Why was the 18/8 street rally organised by Civil Human Rights Front peaceful?
To restore confidence, the frontline protesters might have decided to change strategies and take a step back to restore the public confidence.
It was unerring for them to leverage on the latest gathering held by Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) in Victoria Park yesterday to garner support of the genuine protesters. In the first two legal street rallies organised by CHRF in June 2019, each turn out was stupendous and mainly peaceful without major untoward incident. The organiser claimed that a total of 1.7m protesters turned up yesterday while police announced that only 128,000 protesters gathered at peak time. We are sceptical of the 1.7m number as we think that the actual number could be much less, albeit the turnout was impressive as most genuine protesters are normally confident with the protests organised by CHRF.
The non-execution of disruptive actions was probably premeditated because of multiple signs that indicate a pull-back strategy was in place. Several Telegram channels operated by frontline protesters were not active yesterday during the rally. The admin of one of the major Telegram Channel used by frontline soldiers to share guerrilla strategies particularly mentioned on the night before yesterday that they would rest for a day. It was highly unusual considering the fact that 18/8 rally would give them ample opportunities to launch multiple attacks against the police in the city. At 12.34am, the admin of the channel specifically said that ‘We came out too even though we mentioned earlier that we would not work today!‘. Although they still came out to participate in the rally to show support, they did not engage in any major attacks after the rally ended. Another Telegram channel (created specifically by frontline protesters for Hong Kong island district protests) which is usually used to broadcast strategies and warnings during major violent rallies was in radio silence yesterday.
Frontline protesters occupied Harcourt Road yesterday until midnight before they left peacefully. One of the their leaders raised a blue flag to signal a full retreat. This further corroborated the evidence that it was pre-planned.
Also, the fact that Jimmy Lai personally led the illegal street rally yesterday bracing potential police arrest further corroborated the intentions of the frontline protesters to remain peaceful. Backed by the United States Government, he knew that only through a successful and peaceful illegal street protest participated by genuine protesters, the confidence level from the people would be restored again.
In the past two weeks, the second wave of disruption has successfully taken place i.e. the genuine protesters consisting of civil servants including MTR and bus staff, medical professionals, airline crew are now in conflict with the government and police force. By advancing into this second stage, the frontline protesters no longer need to inflict so much harm on the city as the hostility towards the government has spread organically. The peaceful illegal rally yesterday was subconsciously legitimised by both the organisers and mastermind, it was indeed a new milestone set. For the first time, hundreds of thousands of genuine protesters took part in an illegal rally (the past rallies organised by CHRF were all approved by police) that was peaceful. By ensuring a peaceful illegal rally, the organisers have justified their protests and shifted the blame to police as the cause of conflict in the past, relieving them from any predetermined guilt. The need to send in the Beijing troops that were on standby in Shenzhen to be deployed was also rendered futile as it would be a complete overkill.
We have yet to see their next course of action as to whether frontline protesters have been indeed made redundant or if their service is still required. However, we think that pockets of clashes in smaller district protests will still take place as the tension between police and protesters have reached all time high. Some form of civil unrest is still required to elbow the government out of their comfort zone.
Meanwhile, their other ‘intellectual’ frontline protesters’ faction, FREEDOM HONG KONG managed to raise HK$15m to initiate rallies worldwide, to organise major street rallies all over the world on 17th August to expose the violence in Hong Kong police. Many rallies were held in Australia, United States, Canada etc during last weekend to expose police brutality and to garner support for Hong Kongers from international community.
Things are definitely not looking rosy for the Hong Kong police after The UN Human Rights Office also accused Hong Kong police recently of defying international norms and standards in their use of weapons, creating “a considerable risk of death or serious injury”.
While the frontline ‘soldiers’ are taking a break, the ‘intellectual and think tank faction has initiated a new round of attacks via the international community:
Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong. and Hong Kong HIIAD organised the “Stand With Hong Kong, Power to the People” Rally on 16 Aug at Chater Garden in Central which had around 3,000 people who turned up.
Their demands are for:
1) The UK to declare a Chinese breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a binding international treaty; and
2) The US Congress and the UK Parliament to legislate Magnitsky-style sanctions upon the persons responsible for / complicit in the suppression of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.
The other intellectual faction under FREEDOM HONG KONG planned a new action to get the Western countries to sanction Hong Kong via two-prong waves :
Wave 1 : 17th and 18th August – To place advertorials in major dailies all around the world to expose ‘war crimes’ committed by Hong Kong government and police.
Wave 2: Multiple campaigns and activities will be planned to coincide with parliamentary meetings of various countries in September 2019 so that bills to sanction Hong Kong will be proposed.
Meanwhile, several petitions to the White House were also filed. Trump recently told Beijing to treat Hong Kong humanely or risk trade deal. ‘I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it,” he said in a subsequent tweet, suggesting a “personal meeting” with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. Also, the US president issued a stern warning to China yesterday, saying there might not be an end to the trade war if the government resorts to “violence” to crush demonstrators in Hong Kong. Hence, Jimmy Lai was 100% sure that Beijing troops would not even dare to come in.
All the above pre-meditated measures seem to be carefully orchestrated in a meticulous manner to ensure that the international community in particular, the United States has an upper hand on the trade deal and Beijing Government will kowtow to them. The pull-back strategy by the frontline protesters coupled with a threat by Trump to swing the trade deal to his favour has forced the Beijing military troops to step on the brakes.
Even though there is a huge majority of Hong Kong’s genuine protesters who are against police’s abuse of power and the government’s stubborn stand on extradition bill, we remain sceptical of the mastermind’s agenda to pass sanctions in the city. As much as we support the setting up of an independent inquiry commission to investigate abuse of power by police and the complete withdrawal of the Extradition bill, we do not vouch for the hidden agenda of the mastermind and the frontline protesters.