The anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong will gradually die down if the number of “violent protesters” on the streets continue to decline, according to a pro-Beijing academy.
At recent protests, the number of “violent protesters” was decreasing, but at the same time the violence they used was escalating, said Lau Siu-kai, the vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies.
Some of the violent attacks targeted the community and public facilities and some people who had previously shown sympathy for the protesters would gradually turn to support the government, Lau said.
Lau said in a radio program on Monday morning that protests would continue for a long period of time, but there would be fewer confrontations. He said it would take time to see a change in public opinion, from supporting the protesters to supporting the police, as the whole issue involved a lot of other factors, including diplomacy.
He said the chance of Beijing suppressing the Hong Kong protests with “strong violence” remained low as the central government still hoped the Hong Kong government and police could contain the situation by themselves.
However, he added the central government could still intervene if necessary as state media had already explained to the public in China about the chaotic situation and how Chinese national flags were being defaced in Hong Kong.
Lau said the scheduled meeting on September 26 between Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and 150 people from the public was aimed at gaining support from those with moderate political views and to show the Hong Kong government was running smoothly again.
Protests have been held in Hong Kong since the Hong Kong government wanted to pass the extradition bill amendment in June. In the past three months, more than 1,400 people have been arrested.
At recent large-scale protests, riot police tended to keep a distance from the protesters when there were more than 1,000 people. They dispersed them with tear gas and tried to split them into smaller groups to make arrests.
They also shut down the MTR and bus services to lower the mobility of the demonstrators and turned MTR stations into resting places for police officers.
A Hong Kong citizen surnamed Chan said in the same radio program that it was true that the number of black-shirt protesters had decreased, but there was an increasing number of local residents going on the streets to support them.
He said the public saw clearly that their civil and political rights were deteriorating rapidly. He said Lau should not misjudge the situation in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong government and police would continue to isolate the radical protesters who support Hong Kong independence from the moderate ones, but it may take time to achieve that target, Yasuhiro Matsuda, a Japanese professor of international politics at the University of Tokyo, said in an interview with Radio Free Asia.
It was unlikely that Beijing would take a soft line over Hong Kong political issues as such a move would send the wrong signal to those who supported Taiwan Independence, he said.
Therefore, the best strategy for pro-democracy protesters was to avoid any loss of life during the confrontations, while putting more effort into winning seats in the District Council elections in November, he said.
However, many people went online and warned it was the wrong strategy to give up protests and focus on “voting the pro-Beijing lawmakers out” of the District Council in November and the Legislative Council in 2020.
They said the government would continue to disqualify election candidates and pro-democracy lawmakers for different reasons. They also said that even if the pro-democracy camp won the District Council election, it would not help rescue any of the arrested protesters, who face up to 10-year jail terms on rioting charges.
If large-scale protests continue after National Day on October 1, Chinese President Xi Jinping would probably not to tolerate any more and strengthen the intervention on Hong Kong, Willy Lam Wo-lap, an adjunct professor at the Center for China Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told The Times in an interview on Saturday.