Hong Kong police given carte blanche to suppress arrest.
I was bored by the first press conference of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) in Beijing last week. I am scared by the latest one held on Tuesday.
Clearly, there will be a serious escalation in the application of force across the city, but it will not involve PLA troops. That may actually be worse for Hong Kong.
HKMAO spokesman Yang Guang said: "Police's resoluteness and preparedness deserve the greatest respect and admiration."
My guess is that Hong Kong police have been given unconditional support and carte blanche to suppress unrest and protests without the fear of subsequent punishment. That means more arrests and unrestricted application of non-lethal force. That is a boost to police morale but a danger in encouraging excessive use of force.
We saw the results on Monday. Police fired more than 800 rounds of tear gas, 140 rubber bullets, and 20 sponge-tipped rounds, which almost equalled their total uses throughout June and July.
The number of arrests has gone up drastically, and the laying of serious charges such as rioting more frequent. A Baptist University student leader was arrested for weapons possession after being caught by police carrying 10 laser-beam devices.
Yang said: "Respect the administration of justice to harshly punish all those guilty of violent [acts]."
Again, we have seen the results already. It's now enough for the secretary for justice to give police verbal assent on prosecution, such as those 44 protesters arrested and charged with rioting that carry sentences of up to 10 years. Their cases have reportedly prompted a protest from a group of government prosecutors.
It appears that besides the normal administrative work of the civil service, the Hong Kong government has been shrunk to just the police and the Department of Justice, so far as Beijing is concerned.
Yang said Beijing was firmly behind Lam and her government. In reality, Lam is now no more than a figurehead. She is not allowed to quit; it's a signal to the protest movement and the opposition that there will be no more compromises, only harsh measures from now on.
About 200 local deputies of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference were ordered to meet HKMAO chief Zhang Xiaoming in Shenzhen on Wednesday. It's a not too subtle message that they have been given the party line and must follow it.