The report Monday about a mainland Chinese man pushing a female Hong Kong overseas student to the ground at the University of Auckland in New Zealand may seem inconspicuous on its own. But it’s a worrying sign of how Beijing has turned Hong Kong’s protests into an intraethnic conflict—one that could flare into far worse violence.
Hong Kong has become ungovernable. The city is now well into its eighth week of unprecedented mass rallies, direct actions, and increasingly provocative acts of civil disobedience, with no sign of the protests ending. There is now an almost complete breakdown of trust between citizens and the police, who are widely seen as a tool of political oppression.
Instead of tackling the five demands of the protesters head on, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has retreated into a political bunker. Her public appearances have become increasingly sparse and often consist of tense press conferences or, more recently, a visit to a youth summer camp of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).