Retalls (16.6.19)

(…) Hong Kong has become a place whose present is unresolved and whose future is unimaginable. After the unexpected violence of the last week, no one can predict how the events of this afternoon, tomorrow, this week will play out. The only certainty is that Hong Kong’s way of life is under immediate threat and its people are coming out in force to defend it. (...) But the curse of living in the eternal immediate present is that the stakes for this “last fight” could not be higher, especially since young Hong Kongers fear that if they are defeated in this battle, there will be nothing left to lose. The failure of the Umbrella movement five years ago, when Hong Kongers occupied important thoroughfares for 79 days, seeking greater democratic participation, to win any concrete gains has raised the stakes further still this time round. “HK is not China! Not yet!” These few words hastily scrawled on to a piece of A4 paper and tacked on to the concrete strut of a walkway aptly encapsulate the political crisis roiling Hong Kong. The territory has been plunged into instability after police fired rubber bullets and 150 rounds of teargas to break up a huge rally on 12 June, just days after a million people peacefully took to the streets to protest against extradition legislation (...) “Not yet” is a reference to the terms of the joint declaration governing Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule in 1997, which promised that the territory’s way of life would remain unchanged for 50 years, until 2047. (…)