Hong Kong (AFP)
Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement tackles a crucial weekend for its credibility, during which it will once again try to rally the crowds after being criticized for the violence that occurred Tuesday at the airport amid a threat of Chinese intervention .
The former British colony has been experiencing its worst political crisis since the beginning of June since its return to China in 1997, with almost daily demonstrations.
This is the biggest challenge to Beijing's sovereignty over its semi-autonomous region and the central government has muscled its speech, equating "terrorism" with the most violent actions of the movement.
China's state-run media has broadcast images of soldiers and armored vehicles in Shenzhen, a neighboring city of Hong Kong. Washington warned Beijing against an intervention that, in the eyes of experts, would be for Beijing disastrous in terms of image or economic consequences.
- No new Tiananmen -
The English-language nationalist daily Global Times said Friday that a possible armed intervention in Hong Kong would not be a repeat of the carnage committed in June 1989 in Tiananmen by the military.
"The incident in Hong Kong will not be a repeat of the June 4 political incident in 1989," the paper said in an unusual allusion to the Tiananmen crackdown, a taboo subject in the country.
Born in June of the refusal of a controversial bill authorizing extraditions to China, the mobilization has since broadened its demands to ask for the advent of a real universal suffrage amid fears of growing interference from Beijing .
The movement has given rise to peaceful monster demonstrations but also to gatherings that have degenerated into increasingly violent clashes between radicals and police.
After being silent for weeks and being accused of being benevolent to the Chinese regime, US President Donald Trump began this week to express concern at the turn of events in the former colony. British, against the backdrop of a trade war with Beijing.
- Solution "in 15 minutes" -
Asked about the risk of violent repression, he announced Thursday that he should talk about it "soon" with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, urging Beijing to "humanly solve the problem."
But he said Xi could also, if he met representatives of the protesters, "solve the problem quickly," "in fifteen minutes".
The protesters are planning for Sunday a large rally presented as "rational, non-violent", to show that the mobilization remains popular despite the violence that has enamelled the end of the action at the airport.
After days in the arrivals hall to peacefully sensitize the people landing in Hong Kong, the mobilization took a confrontational turn Tuesday when protesters prevented departing travelers from boarding and then assaulted two men accused of being spies of Beijing.
These images have considerably undermined the image of a movement that had become very popular and had only been used by law enforcement agencies and institutions.
The Chinese propaganda apparatus jumped at the opportunity, the public media lashing out at the violence of the protesters.
The call to demonstrate on Sunday was launched by the Civil Rights Front, a non-violent organization behind the giant protests in June and July.
- Prohibited events -
"Sunday's march should still bring a million people together, and the Hong Kong people can not be beaten," said pro-democracy MP Claudia Mo on Facebook.
But the risk of new scuffles is real. Other protesters called for rallies on Saturday at Hung Hom and To Kwa Wan, waterfront areas popular with tourists from mainland China. These two events were not allowed.
And if the police gave the green light to Sunday's rally in a large park on Hong Kong Island, she banned protesters from marching in the street.
This kind of ban has almost always been ignored by protesters in recent weeks and the marches have resulted in clashes with law enforcement.
The authorities justify these bans by more and more recurrent violence during the processions, the protesters attacking the police stations.
Under the principle of "One country, two systems" which had presided over the retrocession, Hong Kong enjoys freedoms unknown elsewhere in China, until 2047. But the demonstrators believe that Beijing respects less and less these unique freedoms.
© 2019 AFP