onsdag 13. mai 2020

'The stakes are higher': Hong Kong's battle lines redrawn for post-Covid protests

Hong Kong is bracing for another summer of protest after renewed violence in parliament, shopping malls, and streets over the weekend. But after almost a year of Beijing’s escalating anger, a growing sense of impunity among police, and a still-dangerous pandemic the rules of engagement are being redrawn.

On Friday the Legislative Council (LegCo) hosted alarming scenes as pro-Beijing legislators protected by security took control of a committee chair, sparking a standoff which escalated to violence. They were seeking to pass a controversial law which would criminalise disrespect of the national anthem. A weekend of flash mobs followed. The scenes were reminiscent of 2019 when legislators came to blows over the controversial extradition bill, which went on to spark the massive demonstrations that roiled the city for months. That bill was eventually withdrawn, but it was too late to stop the protests evolving into a broader pro-democracy movement which promises to kick on this year.

But analysts say there is more at stake now, with September elections looming, at which pro-democracy candidates could win a majority.