“If the police fired tear gas, I’d throw it right back,” a relative told me, as a recent protest in Hong Kong was about to start. That sentiment was startling, given that this protester is 80 years old.
Like many in his generation who fled mainland China for Hong Kong, my elderly relative had long had faith in the Chinese Communist Party. He used to adore Mao and was willing to overlook many of the Party’s catastrophes because of its achievements.
But three months of protests, the increasing ineptitude of the local authorities, and years of erosion of freedoms by the Party have changed the minds of many like him in Hong Kong. The Chinese government has seriously mishandled the situation and the Hong Kong authorities are continuing down this track by invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance.
During recent clashes between protesters and the police across the city, you could see people directing protesters to safety, and opening their homes and businesses to shelter them, showing that the demonstrations have evolved into a city-wide resistance movement.