Should China send soldiers to Hong Kong

Hong Kong:
The escalation of violence

A chronological review of the events

November 27, 2019: The police announced on Thursday that they would enter the now apparently empty grounds of the Polytechnic University, where demonstrators of the democracy movement had holed up for days. Police chief Ricky Ho announced on Wednesday that the operation would begin on Thursday morning. This is intended to "restore" the "security" of the university campus so that it can be "reopened" quickly, said Ho Pick up campus.

The Polytechnic University area developed into one of the most important arenas in the course of the month-long democracy protests in Hong Kong. When the security forces cordoned off the site, hundreds fled - some of them through sewers or by abseiling onto waiting motorbikes.

In the past few days the last students had apparently left the university. On Tuesday, employees of the university searched the campus and, according to their own information, only found a single demonstrator. Reporters from the AFP news agency saw numerous rubble, barricades and shards of Molotov cocktails on the premises of the college on Wednesday.

25. November: Hong Kong's democracy movement recorded an overwhelming victory in the local elections. Pro-democracy candidates won 388 of the 452 seats in the 18 district councils in Sunday's election, 263 more than in the 2015 election, according to local media. 59 seats went to Beijing-loyal candidates and five to independent candidates. Hong Kong Prime Minister Carrie Lam said she wanted to "humbly" listen to the voters. Opposition politicians demanded concessions from the government after the election debacle.

The turnout in the local elections was higher than ever before. It was considered an important test of mood for the democracy movement. After the polling stations closed on Sunday, the election commission stated that the participation was around 71 percent. This was the highest figure since these elections were introduced in 1999. In the local elections four years ago, the turnout was just over 47 percent.

So far, the district councils have traditionally been dominated by politicians loyal to Beijing. It has now become clear that a large majority supports the protest movement that has been taking to the streets against the government for months. For Lam and Beijing, the result is humiliation. In the past few months, Lam repeatedly rejected the protesters' demands and declared that a silent majority of the population supported their government.

In a first statement on Monday, she said she would respect the result. "The government will certainly humbly listen to the opinions of citizens and give them serious thought." She did not comment on her intentions in any more detail. Beijing expressed its unbroken support for Lam after the election. The Chinese government is "firmly" behind her and supports the police and judiciary in punishing "violent and illegal behavior," said a foreign ministry spokesman.

Government critics immediately urged Lam to comply with the protesters' five key demands, which include the right to free elections in Hong Kong and an independent investigation into alleged police violence. "The government must face public opinion honestly," said Wu Chi-Wai, chairman of the Democratic Party, the largest opposition party in Hong Kong.

Dozens of newly elected district councilors went to the Polytechnic University campus on Monday evening and appealed to the police to let the activists go unmolested. "The people of Hong Kong have spoken," said pro-democracy District Councilor Paul Zimmermann in front of the university. "Now is the time for the government to react. Don't disappoint Hong Kong again," he appealed to the government. Activists called for renewed protests on the Internet on Sunday.

The 18 district councilors have little political influence, they mainly deal with local problems such as bus routes and rubbish collection. In the light of the protests that had been going on for months, however, they took on a new political meaning. According to a complicated electoral system prescribed by Beijing, 117 votes are also awarded via seats on the councils in the 1,200-member election committee that determines the Hong Kong head of government.

November 23: Hong Kong is holding local elections on Sunday amid ongoing protests. The district council elections are an important indicator of the mood in the city. In Sunday's elections, 4.13 million Hong Kong voters will be able to vote on 452 district council posts in 18 districts. More than 1000 candidates are running. The counting of votes begins immediately after the polling stations close at 10.30 p.m. (local time / 3.30 p.m. CET). The first results are expected on Monday night.

Hong Kong's Supreme Court had recently re-enacted a ban on masking, which had recently been lifted, amid the ongoing protests. The court said on Friday that the ban would apply for a further seven days until November 29. The Hong Kong media reported that the government of the Chinese Special Administrative Region asked the court to overturn its decision pending an appeal.

The Polytechnic University is still occupied.

November 19: The occupation of the Polytechnic University continues. It is estimated that there were still around 100 students on the campus in the Hung Hom district on Tuesday. Prime Minister Carrie Lam told the press that the security forces wanted to resolve the "incidents" there peacefully. Around 600 students left the university campus, around 200 of them were under 18 years of age. How many were arrested, Lam didn't say. Many of the younger protesters had been led off campus overnight by a mediating group of middle school principals and prominent figures. The minors were able to go home after the police took their personal details. Prime Minister Lam called on the remaining students in the college to surrender.

The violent protests in the Chinese Special Administrative Region had lasted into the night. Because of the unrest, schools and kindergartens also remained closed on Tuesday. Since Sunday, the emergency services have cordoned off the campus to arrest the students. Nevertheless, several hundred were able to escape from buildings over fences or on ropes. Unused incendiary bombs were left behind. Bottles of flammable materials and protective clothing, Hong Kong media reported.

The police said they also used live ammunition, but nobody was said to have been hit.

According to Beijing, lifting the ban on masking is illegal

After a court in Hong Kong lifted the ban on masking, a Chinese parliament speaker in Beijing dismissed the verdict as illegitimate. Jian Tiewei of the People's Congress Legal Committee told the official Xinhua News Agency that only the Beijing Parliament's Standing Committee could decide whether a decree complies with Hong Kong's Basic Law. He expressed "deep concern" about the ruling by the Hong Kong court the previous day, which dismissed the ban on masking as too extensive and inconsistent with Hong Kong's constitution. The verdict "seriously weakened" the administrative power of Prime Minister Lam. In response to the decision, the government suspended implementation of the ban for the time being.

Hong Kong's government enacted the ban in early October in a recourse to almost 100-year-old colonial emergency law. The judges made it clear that they did not fundamentally reject a masking ban or consider it unconstitutional. However, the present ban does not maintain a reasonable balance between the protected rights of citizens and social goals. The 106-page ruling also sees the emergency law from the British colonial era, which has been in force since 1922, in contradiction to the Basic Law, because it empowers the head of government to exercise far-reaching powers in the event of public danger.