On August 7, Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong, Wang Zhimin, called the protests a “life and death war” and compared them to the “color revolutions,” such as those that toppled governments in Ukraine and Georgia. Coming a week after Hong Kong police charged 44 people with rioting and days after strikes paralyzed parts of the city, the comments are the latest salvo in an intensifying dispute between Hong Kong protesters and their government. Over the last few months, millions of Hongkongers have taken to the streets—some calling for more democracy, or the shelving of a controversial extradition law, or the resignation of embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Meanwhile, Beijing has hinted it’s willing to use force to break up the protests. “Should the chaos continue,” said a spokesman for Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, “it is the entire Hong Kong society that will suffer.”
What’s next for Hong Kong? And what is the likelihood the protests will end peacefully, or descend into further bloodshed?