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A Tiananmen solution in Hong Kong?

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WASHINGTON – The crisis in Hong Kong appears to be careening toward a devastating climax. With China’s government now using rhetoric reminiscent of that which preceded the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989, Hong Kong’s prodemocracy protesters — and, indeed, its democracy — could well be in grave danger.

For more than two months Hong Kong has been beset by protests. Triggered by a proposed law to allow the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China, the demonstrations have since developed into broader calls to safeguard — or, perhaps more accurately, restore — the semi-autonomous territory’s democracy, including by strengthening state (especially police) accountability.

As the unrest drags on, the Chinese government’s patience is wearing thin — and its warnings are growing more ominous. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) garrison in Hong Kong is, in the words of its commander Chen Daoxiang, “determined to protect national sovereignty, security, stability and the prosperity of Hong Kong.” To drive the point home, a promotional video showing Chinese military officers in action was released along with the statement.

Yang Guang, a spokesperson for the Chinese government’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, has echoed this sentiment, warning the protesters — whom he calls “criminals” — not to “take restraint for weakness.” He then reiterated the government’s “firm resolve” to “safeguard the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.”

Zhang Xiaoming, the director of the office, then took matters........

© The Japan Times