23rd January 2020 – (Hong Kong) The latest issue of Time Magazine features Hong Kong protesters who vowed not to back down in the ongoing civil unrest. In the article, young Hong Kong protesters said that they would rather be martyrs than inmates and they declared that “If they keep arresting us until no one is left on the streets, then the activity will go underground. Freedom or Death. There will be no telling. When we will come back out and strike again.” Among the dozens of protesters interviewed by TIME for this story, there is widespread certainty that escalation is the only way to confront Beijing. However, the endgame remains murky, with no consensus among protesters over whether to ultimately seek independence, universal suffrage or some other semblance of greater autonomy. For now, they have rallied around a common enemy. And while protest fatigue has set in, public opinion remains largely unified against the government. “The middle and the professional classes are furious at the government and are furious [that] they have been losing economic power for the last 15 years.’
However, it seems that a new antidote for the ongoing protest has arrived unexpectedly i.e. the Wuhan pneumonia aka novel coronavirus. It takes an epidemic to wipe out another murky political plague. This new virus has now taken some of the heat off the Hong Kong government as the pressure is on them to contain the virus. Pro-democracy political activists are now shifting their focus to urge the government to stop mainland Chinese visitors from entering the city. The public seem to be more concerned with their health than the ‘five demands’ for now as almost everyone on the MTR train could be seen wearing a mask today.
The contagious virus will deter any major rallies in the near future from being held as most people will not risk their health to fight for democracy. If the epidemic persists and worsens in the next few days, the momentum will definitely die down and the worn-out frontline radicals will need to re-strategise again with their masterminds before they meet the dearth of their political agenda.