The mass resignation of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers was largely viewed as a symbolic gesture. Meant to protest to Beijing’s recently imposed law allowing the disqualification of lawmakers deemed ‘unpatriotic’ and the subsequent removal of four legislators, the move might do more harm than good. Now the pro-democracy camp has minimal representation and can yield zero influence in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. Essentially, they have cast away their primary platform to voice objections against Beijing’s growing encroachment on Hong Kong. If anything, the legislators did Beijing a favor by falling upon their swords. A selfish move undoubtedly conceived at a time when emotions were running high and reckless.
Beijing’s move was more astute and calculated. The National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s resolution empowering the Hong Kong government to bypass the courts and remove politicians seen as threats to national security comes to being as Washington’s attention is focused on the presidential election fallout. As a result, a decisive countermove by the US is not expected. Sanctions are being discussed currently by the US and Great Britain, yet the Chinese government is confident it can contend with them.
It is a moot point whether a coordinated Western response to China’s actions in Hong Kong materializes or not. Hong Kong is now almost entirely under Beijing’s control. The city’s governing officials are not even trying to hide the fact any longer. Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said a legislature that removes the opposition “is nothing to be ashamed of” and will allow bills to be passed “more efficiently.” Her remarks coincide with the Chinese government’s stated intention to impose “comprehensive rule” over Hong Kong to increase its identity as part of the People’s Republic of China.
The light of democracy in Hong Kong is in imminent danger of being extinguished permanently in the coming months.