The Hong Kong protest movement is not deescalating – nor will it. Having battled for 12 weeks, this multi-million-person movement has lasted much longer than the unsuccessful 79-day Umbrella protests in 2014. This is because protesters believe this is their last chance to protect the “one country, two systems” model that came into effect after Hong Kong’s 1997 handover to China and also expand the scope of the democracy in the city.
Yet, despite the enormous, peaceful marches, along with the more militant protesters who have shut down the airport and engaged in repeated battles with police, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has remained unmoved. This dynamic is hard for Western governments to understand. If these protests were happening in a democratic society, the government would likely seek to enter into concession bargaining with the protesters, knowing that compromise and negotiation are core strategies for deescalating tensions.