More than 300,000 Hong Kong residents gathered Saturday at Tamar Park to attend an assembly on the theme of “Safeguarding Hong Kong,” according to the organizer. The number issued by Hong Kong police was around 100,000. Saturday’s rally was organized to show that Hong Kong people support the rule of law, they condemn violence, and they want prosperity and stability in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) to continue. The gathering came weeks after Hong Kong was rattled by violent protests and savage behaviors of some protesters.
Protesters tried to mislead public opinion with their extreme demonstrations. They wanted to create the illusion that protesting in the streets can challenge legitimate governance. By making unreasonable demands on the HKSAR government to withdraw its extradition bill, the protesters have tainted the law-based governance of the region. They have created unprecedented chaos in Hong Kong, eroded the authority of law and violently attacked Hong Kong police.
Due to increasing violence and harassment, some supporters of the HKSAR government were deterred from speaking up and chose to keep a low profile, while the anti-government protesters tried to build momentum in their campaign.
People attended the “Safeguarding Hong Kong” rally wore no helmets or masks, in sharp contrast to the violent protestors who covered their faces at the earlier protests. Extremists lashed out at those who condemn violence, but they can never win over hundreds of thousands of people with justice on their side. As the old saying goes, evil can never prevail over good, and it will definitely be this way in Hong Kong.
As we all know, expressing an opinion is supposed to be done peacefully and according to the law. Most people are not used to expressing themselves in street demonstrations, and they don’t expect to be confronted for having their say. This is when a “silent majority” is formed. When there is a dispute, it is usually the antagonists who are more likely to make a show of force. However, very often they do not represent mainstream opinion.
There is a principle in communications studies that when more than 20 percent of a society fiercely oppose something, they will have a better chance of launching a powerful protest to influence public opinion.
Adhering to the law has always been a core value of Hong Kong society. Safeguarding the legal system and opposing violence are destined to be the biggest concerns of Hong Kong’s mainstream public. Recently, extremists have politicized Hong Kong’s legal system. This kind of mobilization may mislead some people in the short-term, especially young people with little worldly experience. However, more and more people are realizing that this kind of extremism is flawed and is destined to fail.
As a competitive international financial center, Hong Kong would not thrive in a lawless jungle. In addition to serving the public interest, the rule of law is also the foundation on which the city maintains its competitive edge. A weakened legal system would be detrimental to Hong Kong in many ways. Some Western countries have made gestures of moral support for HK protesters. However, for political and economic reasons, some Western politicians would be happy to see Hong Kong fall off its pedestal.
People from different demographics joined Saturday’s assembly. They demonstrated the reality of Hong Kong’s pluralistic society. They share a common belief that political movements on the streets will not settle all of Hong Kong’s issues. Acts of vandalism will turn the city into a chaotic place, in which case, HK will lose its economic and cultural vitality.
Hong Kong residents need to remain calm and focus their attention on the city’s development and restoring the legal system’s standing. The Hong Kong government also needs to develop practical measures to address existing problems, especially those that effect young people. By improving their working and living conditions, more young people will accept mainstream values.
Hong Kong’s future must be based on the rule of law. China will not allow extremists and external forces to take down Hong Kong’s legal system and drive the city into a vicious cycle. If Hong Kong loses its rule of law and becomes a political battleground, it will have an uncertain future. That is against the wishes of Hong Kong residents, and China will not allow it to happen.