Hong Kong police are threatening to use live ammunition, but applying more force will not resolve the situation. The territory is facing a political crisis — and a political solution is needed, writes Philipp Bilsky.
Once again, we saw all too familiar images in Hong Kong this weekend: Water cannons, burning barricades, petrol bombs. The situation in the former crown colony has escalated further over the last few days. The Hong Kong police now operates de facto without any controls — and it does not look as if this is about to change. Even the most serious violations by the police are likely to remain unpunished. The Hong Kong Government has made it very clear that it is not prepared to respond to the demonstrators' demands. Not even to their most important request: an independent investigation into police violence.
The demonstrators' willingness to use violence has also increased significantly. This is evident in the recent use of, among other things, archery bows to shoot arrows or self-constructed catapults to fire petrol bombs. This violence is no longer directed only against representatives of the state. Some demonstrators also attack fellow citizens, only because they have a different opinion and take a critical view of the protest movement. Extremely disturbing images of such incidents have been circulating online in recent days.
Now, the Hong Kong police is threatening to use live ammunition on demonstrators. But it is already clear that using more force will only lead to more violence on the part of the demonstrators. Anyone who wants to understand how the current situation came about needs to look at the developments over recent years. Again and again, large parts of the Hong Kong society have peacefully protested against Beijing's growing influence and for greater democratic participation. But little has changed. Many demonstrators have, therefore, come to the conclusion that peaceful protests cannot bring about change.
At its core, Hong Kong faces a political crisis. If the government wants to get out of the current deadlock, it will need a political solution. But for the moment that seems more than unlikely. There are currently no significant political initiatives set forward by the Hong Kong government.