The violent protests in Hong Kong over the past seven months have significantly rocked the economy, legitimacy, and society of this financial centre of Asia. It is very alarming and a challenge for the Hong Kong government to take appropriate and effective intervention to curb the protests.
The Chinese government regards the protests as “colour revolution” with Hong Kong’s characteristics due to widespread riots across the city and the collateral damages are serious and beyond Hong Kong itself.
Zhang Xiaoming, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), said the protests embody the “obvious characteristics of a colour revolution”- a violent people’s uprising in Eastern Europe in early 2000s.
Some Chinese scholars share the same view. Professor Zhang Dinghuai at Shenzhen University, told the Straits Times that common elements of colour revolutions include strong specific political demands, interference by external forces, attempts to motivate the public, social stand-offs and turmoil, huge pressure upon the authorities, and pursuit of power transfer through purportedly ‘non-violent’ approaches”.
It is generally observed that foreign interference is the catalyst of a violent, illegitimate power transition under the pretext of democracy and human rights in those countries hit by colour revolution.
The symptoms are colour revolution include creating social chaos and political instability, disrupting state functions, challenging state legitimacy, causing economic slowdown or crisis.
Usually the leaders of such movement use the words fighting for democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms. But these colour revolutions often led to long-term political instability and sluggish economy.
We need to understand that democracy is not a result but a process and a journey. No society has been able to build a democratic society and policy system overnight. Democracy should be understood as a means towards long-term peace, stability and prosperity, which requires long-term thinking and strategic intervention.
Democracy does not function well without strong economic foundations, resilient and educated local community, and effective leadership and state institutions.
Hong Kong citizens have enjoyed peace and development since 1997 under the “one country, two systems” policy. There was not much public discontent against the government as life and business run smoothly.
However, things started to change in 2014 when thousands of protests took to the streets to demand for electoral freedom. Students were the main forces behind the protests. The scale of the protests and foreign interference at that time was much smaller than this time.
The spirit of the protests in 2014 continue until now and in the future. The protests have become riots and bear features of a colour revolution. This is a dangerous development indeed. The education system in Hong Kong has implanted “liberal values and ideals” to the young people.
These ideals have been politically manipulated by some populist, extreme politicians who are ready to the take the opportunity to deligitimise the government for their power interest. The young generation in Hong Kong is vulnerable to political manipulation as their political views are largely driven by short-termism and utopian-unrealistic world views.
Nation building is a long-term process. Democracy is a journey. Peace, stability, social harmony and shared prosperity are the goals of nation building. For a big country, with a population of about 1.4 billion with diverse ethnicity, religion and beliefs, it is not an easy task for China to build an integrated political system and value.
Hong Kong youth should learn more about nation building processes in other countries and draw some lessons for themselves and their community. They should also learn the experiences from those countries that went through prolonged social and political instability and civil war so that they understand the values of peace and stability.
Cambodia can offer some historical lessons to the Hong Kong people with regards to the suffering of war and conflict. The people of Hong Kong should not totally depend on any single major power to help them realize their dream. They themselves define and determine the future of Hong Kong.
A colour revolution will only bring cause collateral damage to Hong Kong people- with long-term social and political instability and economic downturn. The real needs of the Hong Kong youth are job opportunities, decent socio-economic welling, and family happiness.
Please Hong Kong people wake up and live with realities. The future is in your hand!
Please Cambodian people, wake up and see the damage which can be done by one recalcitrant politician, Sam Rainsy.