Fox News Host Stuart Varney said on Wednesday night’s “My Take” that we need to “call it what it is” in Hong Kong. And what it is, he said, is “urban warfare.” He continued, “There is blood on the streets. That is urban warfare. Both sides organized for battle. After that shooting, it’s now a clear-cut fight. Hong Kong versus Beijing — and neither side is going to back off.” Varney’s statement came in the wake of “one of most violent days in history” for the semi-autonomous city, as students went on strike after one 18-year-old student was shot in the chest at point-blank range by riot police.
The Independent reported on Wednesday that “more than 100 demonstrators were taken to hospital and 180 arrested,” following the shooting, while the victim is in stable condition. The outbreak of pro-freedom violence came as mainland China was trying to celebrate 70 years of Communist rule.
Earlier this morning it became known that Hong Kong police have “loosened guidelines on the use of force” against protestors. The same Reuters report indicated that China’s Communist anniversary involved firing “about 1,400 rounds of tear gas, 900 rubber bullets and six live rounds” at Hong Kongers.
David Roche, founder of research firm Independent Strategy, went even further on CNBC earlier today. He explained that there is “no return” to what Hong Kong was before the protests began more than four months ago. “I don’t see the social situation being easily resolved, and I don’t see it getting better. So my forecast is pretty gloomy,” he said. The same report quoted longtime HK resident and local real estate mogul Allan Zeman telling the network, “The police have become the enemy, especially after the shooting of the young school boy.” Zeman is also an economic advisor to besieged Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Beijing doubled down — literally — in recent days, quietly doubling the number of mainland troops in Hong Kong. Reuters reported on Monday that it had been informed by local sources that there are now “up to 12,000 Chinese troops in Hong Kong,” brought in by Beijing with “trucks and armored cars, by bus and by ship.” Presumably, mainland troops have fewer compunctions about shooting HKers dead in the street than local police would.
And what does Hong Kong have to resist all that? A growing sense of Hong Kong patriotism. Nearly 53% of Hong Kong residents now think of themselves as Hong Kongers rather than as Chinese, up from less than 40% when Beijing took over the city from over a century British rule in 1997. The percentage of HKers who call themselves Chinese has dropped to just 10.8%. At I wrote on Instapundit on Monday, “Beijing has the kind of problem with Hong Kong that they can’t fix with bullies and tear gas. ”
Yes, Beijing could murder its way out of that problem — but at what cost, not only to one of its urban jewels, but to its all-important international trade? Tiananmen Square was perhaps 10,000 dead, quickly, and kept completely out of sight. And that was at a time when China’s international trade was too small to bother measuring, and the average Chinese had little to lose from an economic disruption. Any potential Hong Kong massacre would be a bloodier and — thanks to omnipresent smartphones — internationally televised affair.
You get the feeling that after months of escalating protests and official violence, that the fear of a “Tiananmen on steroids” getting uploaded to YouTube is maybe the only thing staying Beijing’s murderous hands.