If the Current Situation in Hong Kong Arose in the West

Hong Kong2.jpeg

The iconic Hong Kong skyline (Credit: Unsplash)

This article was written for The European Sting by a Chinese Visiting Scholar in Europe, Mr. Eric Wu. The opinions expressed herewith reflect exclusively the writer’s views.


Some Western countries have recently closely watched the situation in Hong Kong. Quite a few politicians and media outlets have made their comments. What is on earth happening? It is as well to look at it from a different angle. What would the U.S. and European countries do if they were confronted with a similar situation?

In terms of legislation, Western countries mostly have strict legal provisions about protests and demonstrations. In the U.S., the law requires that an application be filed with the police in advance for holding any demonstration, and it must be organized at the approved time, in the approved place and along the approved route. Offenders may face a fine or even a sentence of one year in prison. Protesters carrying items that can be used as weapon may face a maximum sentence of up to 10 years. American law focuses on maintaining the absolute authority of the police in the execution of official duties, and there is no cap on law enforcement against violence. In the course of performing duty, the police may use coercion against suspects for security reasons.

Similarly, France’s Anti-Riot Bill and penal code provide for the use of force by the police without warning in the event of violence against law enforcement personnel. Armed protesters risk up to five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros. Protesters are banned from covering their faces, and violators may face up to one year in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros. The Police Act of the UK clearly stipulates that the police have the right to define the nature of an unlawful assembly and the right to clear the venue and use other means to ban the unlawful assembly. The laws mentioned above show that in Western countries, any protest or demonstration is under the strict control of the police, and the police’s right to enforce the law must be firmly upheld.

As for law enforcement, the police in Western countries mostly take strong measures against violent demonstrations. American police used tear gas and water cannons in the Occupy Wall Street movement that took place in 2011. French police used stun grenades and rubber bullets during the Yellow Vest movement. It is worth noting that, in all the cases from the London riots in 2011 to the Baltimore protests in 2015 and the recent Yellow Vest movement, Western governments authorized the military to intervene to maintain order and prevent escalation.

Major Western countries have imposed severe punishments on the participants in violent demonstrations. In the wake of the London riots in 2011, then Prime Minister David Cameron stressed the need to severely and quickly punish those involved in looting and arson, and proposed to deny the offenders and their families the right to government benefits. More than 1,300 people were arrested and over 300 sentenced, including one university student who was given a six-month sentence for stealing a bottle of mineral water from a store. In the Yellow Vest movement, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe repeatedly stressed that the violent protesters would be severely punished. Of the over 5,000 arrested people, more than 1,000 have been sentenced.

As far as public opinion is concerned, Western governments and media have a clear and consistent position on violence. For example, in the face of the Yellow Vest movement, the President, Prime Minister and even Cabinet Ministers of France publicly criticized the violence on many occasions, stressing that the government would not give in to violence. In response to the climate change protest in London in April this year, then Home Secretary Sajid Javid even urged the police to use the “full force of the law” to deal with protesters who “occupied” the streets of the city and told the police not to be “soft-hearted”. The mainstream media in the country actively supported the government’s position. The Daily Mail even directly referred to the protesters as “eco-mob”. All these provided a necessary public opinion environment for ending the violence rapidly.

The causes of the chaos in Hong Kong are complicated, but there is by no means excuse for violence. The whole world should apply the same standard when it comes to punishing violence and quelling riots. The rule of law must be upheld.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

At this Italian bookshop, children swap their recycling for something to read

Making the most of the Sustainable Development Goal 3: its overlooked role in medical education

Mergers: Commission clears E.ON’s acquisition of Innogy, subject to conditions

Confirmed ‘Blue Line’ tunnels ‘do not appear’ to surface in Israel – UN peacekeeping chief

A Young entrepreneur cries out: “start in Europe, stay in Europe”

From violence to dialogue: as land conflicts intensify, UN boosts efforts to resolve disputes through mediation

US – Russia bargain on Syria, Ukraine but EU kept out

EU and Japan select first Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Programmes

New book honours UN women who made HERstory

There are more than 1 billion guns in the world and this is who owns them

Around 600,000 Afghan children face death through malnutrition without emergency funds: UNICEF

IFMSA and IPSF on the Health of Migrants and Refugees

EU budget: Commission proposes most ambitious Research and Innovation programme yet

Why precision medicine is the future of healthcare

UN chief condemns terror attack in Kismayo, Somalia

This Mexican company is making biofuel from cactus plants

Half the world’s refugee children not in school, UN agency finds

MEPs approve boost to workers’ rights in the gig economy

Berlin and Paris pursue the financial fragmentation of Eurozone

FROM THE FIELD: Watering the parched farmland of São Tomé and Príncipe

Draghi cuts the Gordian knot of the Banking Union

UN food agency begins ‘last resort’ partial withdrawal of aid to opposition-held Yemeni capital

EU Copyright Directive: Will US tech giants comply or ditch the EU market?

Greenery: the miracle cure for urban living

Why Eurozone can afford spending for growth

An ageing workforce isn’t a burden. It’s an opportunity

Portugal can use its economic recovery to build up resilience

Khashoggi case highlights ‘very worrying practice’ of overseas abductions, says UN expert

How can entrepreneurship tackle the migration crisis in the EU?

UN chief praises New Zealand premier’s ‘admirable’ response to Christchurch attacks

45th Anniversary of the French Confederation (Confédération Nationale des Junior Entreprises)

UN experts urge United Arab Emirates to release terminally ill woman to live her last days ‘in dignity’

How music can help children with autism connect

EU’s unsparing question to UK: now what kind of future relations do you want?

July was the hottest month ever – what does that actually mean?

We can save our ocean in three steps – if we act now

The West unites against Mali desert rebels

How a teen refugee survived a shipwreck and saved a baby’s life

‘Staunch support’ for Iran nuclear deal tempered by concern over missile testing

‘Pioneering’ former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet officially appointed new UN human rights chief

5 ways to #BeatAirPollution

China Unlimited: the dragon’s long and winding road

Metrics of the Sustainable Developments Goals: Can we trust our data?

Scourge of slavery still claims 40 million victims worldwide, ‘must serve as a wakeup call’

Spotlight Initiative – EU and UN fight against domestic violence in the Pacific region

Congolese expelled from Angola returning to ‘desperate situation’: UN refugee agency

Greece may offer to China a European gateway

Utmost hypocrisy emitted by EU’s energy regulation

The JADE Spring Meeting is about to begin

Ceasefire holds in Tripoli, but core problems remain, says UN Libya mission chief

COP21 Breaking News_10 December: UN Climate Chief Calls for Final Push to Meet Adaptation Fund Goal Very Close to Target

What keeps me up at night? Two strategists reply

Syria: UN chief warns Idlib offensive may set off ‘humanitarian catastrophe’

These are the fastest trains in the world

What makes America the world’s most competitive economy?

COP21 Breaking News: Paris Pact on Water and Climate Change Adaptation Announced

MWC 2016 LIVE: The top 5 themes of this year’s Mobile World Congress

The EU launches € 1 billion plan on supercomputers and tries to catch-up with competitors

Most people on the internet live in this country

These are the world’s best cities to be a cyclist

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s