Sky Views: China is three decades ahead of schedule with its rep

Tom Cheshire, Asia correspondent

(Wednesday, August 15, 2018) 07:43

It was odd to be in China watching demonstrators take to the streets and shout protests. Any minute now, you think, the truncheons will come out and they'll be bundled off by the police. That's how they do things in Beijing, where I live.

They might end up committed to a psychiatric institute, like the woman who splashed ink on a poster of Chinese president Xi Jinping, according to Voice of America, or simply just not be heard of for a while.

But this was Hong Kong and the protests - in favour of and against Andy Chan's right to give a talk about Hong Kong independence - went ahead. Instead of manhandling people to the ground, the police were courteous and professional. It was quite refreshing.

Looking at the scene, you might be tempted to see it as proof of Hong Kong's enduring freedoms, even after 20 years as part of authoritarian China. The territory's Basic Law, distinct from mainland Chinese law, guarantees freedom of speech, of the press, of demonstration - all were on display.

In a couple of ways, it seemed the pro-Beijing supporters had undermined their own cause.