The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is closely monitoring Hong Kong’s Occupy Central (讓愛與和平佔領中環) – literally. The PLA headquarters are located on Lung Wui Road, close to Admiralty and the government offices in Tamar.
Today the South China Morning Post published a picture showing staff inside the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Forces Hong Kong Building watching the protesters with binoculars.
Occupy Central poses the biggest challenge to Communist rule since the 1989 student protests. The democracy movement on the mainland was suppressed by the very PLA whose garrisons entered Hong Kong after British forces left the city in 1997.
I had never noticed that building until last Sunday. While I was walking from Central towards Tamar, trying to return to Admiralty, I stumbled upon a group of protesters gathered in front of the PLA headquarters. The road was blocked by the police, so I couldn’t walk any further. I turned around and saw the military premises. There was a surreal signboard with a Communist-style slogan praising the concept of ‘one country, two systems’ – while thousands of people outside protested against this very model of political integration, which many believe to have failed.
|The PLA headquarters in Hong Kong (left), known as the ‘Prince of Wales Building’ during the British colonial era (source).|
The central location of the PLA headquarters in Hong Kong is a reminder that Central is not – as some people seem to hope – so different from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Regina Ip, a pro-Beijing member of the Legislative Council (LegCo), recently made remarks that sound like a warning: “I think the worry on the part of the Hong Kong government is, what if it becomes a mini-Tiananmen? Who is behind it?” As to the students and activists, she said that they “remind you of Tiananmen, the protesters asking for dialogue with the chief executive and surrounding the chief executive’s office. If the police are driven to disperse them by force, it could turn sour and sinister.”
China’s state media have intensified their campaigns against Occupy Central. The Global Times, for instance, describes the activists as “radical” and the protests as “illicit”. In an interesting twist of logic, the paper announces that the activists “are jeopardizing the global image of Hong Kong, and presenting the world with the turbulent face of the city.” In reality, Hong Kong’s global image has been damaged by Beijing’s decision not to grant full democracy to the city.
“The Hong Kong government,” continues the paper, “can take actions to resume order in response to the damage the radical forces caused to society. Occupy Central is unable to erode the authority of the rule of law.” Obviously, the newspaper has little understanding for the difference between ‘rule of law’ and ‘rule by law’.
As the world is watching what is happening in Hong Kong, everyone hopes that the central government in Beijing will not overreact. Indoctrination and restriction of freedom have seldom produced anything good. Countries whose governments impose a state ideology struggle for decades to get rid of the collective hysteria that such ideologies produce.