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Power to the people

  • Published at 12:08 am August 23rd, 2019
Pro-China activists march on the streets of Sydney on August 17, 2019, as they rally against ongoing protests in Hong Kong AFP

People are rising up to oppression and wrong-doing the world over

Sweeping the world is a phenomenon best described as “people power,” which has challenged elected governments, dictatorial regimes, and even controlled territory. The bone of contention ranges from economic issues such as France to democratic rights in Sudan and Hong Kong.

They made the headlines alright but, in quite a few cases, died down wherever regime patience prevailed. This includes the yellow jacket movement in France and Zimbabwe, fuelled initially by the prices of fuel and the cost of living, and that of democratic rights, such as in Sudan and now Hong Kong.

If reports are to be believed, these were spontaneous outbursts that dissipated just as naturally. Sudan’s was particularly violent, in which lives were lost before a second agreement was signed between the public and the army for a transition of democratic power. 

Hong Kong, often described as one of the most peaceful and safest regions in the world, has shed its image as irate and mostly young protesters picked on legislation that sought to extradite wrong-doers to China.

The authorities pulled back and killed the bill, but now protestors are seeking a change to the rules that govern democracy in the territory that used to be governed from a distance by the United Kingdom, but is now in the hands of China.

The concern is that if life comes to a standstill, as it appears to be heading for after two months of protests, there will is the prospect of intervention by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. 

While that is not desired, it is part of the articles that govern China’s up-till-now loose control of the territory. They have limited themselves to reiterating the specific article, and a show of might through armoured columns prepared to wade in. But even China will think deep over the last straw given the economic hub that is Hong Kong and the image of the territory.

But matters don’t become any easier when the main airport becomes non-functional when it interferes with the massive trade that takes place between Hong Kong and mainland China. 

It also serves the giant economy well that Hong Kong affords certain capitalist luxuries that more Chinese are attracted to and can afford. It is also an outlet from the tariff barriers that are increasingly being imposed by the US. Emmanuel Macron chose the path of dialogue through town hall meetings to take the sting out of the yellow jacket movement. That and some concessions have thrown a garb of patience over the French protestors.

Whether he will be able to meet most if not all the demands and still steer his country out of an economic mess is both a matter of conjecture and hope. Sudan’s accord will take four years to come to fruition.

The military promise is that the agreement will be adhered to, but lingering doubts remain. For now, it’s a wait and see affair over people power. 

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.