Hong Kong Reaches a Point of No Return

Sep 5, 2019 | 21:33 GMT

Police officers stand guard at Hong Kong's Po Lam Station during a standoff with protesters on Sept. 5, 2019.

Police officers stand guard at Hong Kong's Po Lam Station during a standoff with protesters on Sept. 5. Hong Kong's days as the preeminent financial hub on China's east coast might be numbered.

(ANTHONY KWAN/Getty Images)


  • While Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam's overdue decision to withdraw a contentious extradition bill will calm some of the crisis in Hong Kong, it will not appease all protesters, especially more radical ones.
  • Even if the standoff abates, negating the need for a harsher crackdown, Hong Kongers' political and socio-economic grievances toward Beijing are so deep that another flare-up is likely to occur eventually.
  • As Hong Kong's political and ideological polarization deepens, it could threaten the city's business environment in the long term as the region's competition for capital flows intensifies further, making it harder to recover from the current crisis.

It's the announcement Hong Kong's protesters were waiting for -- three months ago. In an effort to quell the city's protests, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam formally declared on Sept. 4 that she was fully withdrawing the controversial extradition bill that initially sparked the city's protests in early June, marking a sharp turn after she steadfastly refused to do anything but suspend the motion. Lam made the decision as part of a four-part action plan, which also includes an independent study on the "root cause" of the protests, as well as greater engagement with citizens. But Lam's efforts are ultimately too little, too late. Even if the city manages to escape further escalations and a harsher crackdown, the long-running crisis has deepened scars in the city and widened gaps with China, making further flare-ups likely and jeopardizing Hong Kong's position as Asia's most prominent financial hub....

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