Thousands under the American consulate with the stars and stripes flags: “Trump help us”. Then the clashes with the police return: vandalized the subway entrances, some surveillance cameras destroyed.
Some stars and stripes had already been seen in recent weeks among the masked demonstrators in Hong Kong. But this Sunday afternoon there are dozens of people waving under the gates of the American consulate. Thousands of citizens have come to invoke US aid, of Donald Trump, in their battle for freedom. They also sing the anthem in English, the words are on pieces of paper distributed by the organizers or on files spread via telephone.
They demand that the American Congress approve a law, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would commit Washington to defend the autonomy of the city. It is the most explicit attempt seen so far by the movement to obtain the support of the American superpower against the frightening superpower, China. And it is no coincidence that it is also the demonstration in which democracy is explicitly shouted, the great taboo of the Communist Party. These are images and words that do not appeal to Beijing, material for its paranoia and its propaganda on the alleged (American) foreign interference in the Hong Kong riots.
“We are not deluding ourselves, we know that Trump is a scoundrel,” says a twenty-year-old boy, mask but not combat clothes, who walks hand in hand with his girlfriend. “But perhaps right now our interests coincide with those of America, and we must use any tool to prevent us from being defeated.” Many people think of it like him: in their eyes, the trade war, the tension between the United States and China, widens the room for maneuver. Others see a risk. In a pseudonym intervention published this morning by the Hong Kong Free Press, a student warned the movement against entrusting hopes of victory to a foreign power, even the democratic one. Especially if it is driven by someone like Trump, who does not seem interested in battles for rights, but today many say that the hopes of victory are still few, they might as well try.
Certainly Hong Kong’s dissent does not seem to have subsided, although Carrie Lam has finally decided to withdraw the extradition law this week. Participation today is not as huge as on other occasions, but in the early afternoon sun, tens of thousands of people have arrived, of all ages and backgrounds. They are not satisfied: they want Lam to answer the other four questions, “not one less”. At about 4 pm the regularly authorized demonstration and until that peaceful moment degenerates, a script already is seen.
Groups of young protesters in battle dress storm the exits of the metro, hated because they are accused of boycotting the protest and collaborating with the police. They destroy glass windows and surveillance cameras, draw black graffiti, spill rubbish and waste materials on the escalators of Central and Hong Kong, the two stops that serve the heart of the city. The usual barricades are formed, the entrance of a meter is ignited. In the streets around hundreds of Filipino domestic helpers try to continue as if nothing was their Sunday picnic, a tradition of the community, but in the end, they have to give up. “We want freedom, they ruined us on Sunday”, screams one. But for her too the culprit is clear: “The police!”
In the end, around 5 pm, after letting the anger of the young people flow freely, the police really do come. At the sight of the agents the demonstrators disperse, a slow-motion race to the north begins, along the roads of Hong Kong, with some smoke bombs, charges, and several arrests. The fourteenth protest weekend, the first after the “concession” of Lam, leaves a trail of debris and gas. Just like the previous ones.