As a way of expressing their indignation over the desecration of China's national flag by some radical protesters on Saturday, a group of Hong Kong residents voluntarily organized a flag-raising and anthem-singing ceremony on Sunday morning in the place where the national flag was removed from the pole and tossed into the sea.
Indeed, not only Hong Kong people but all Chinese people felt affronted by such an act. The deliberate desecration of the national flag, the symbol of national dignity, is intolerable. It is an act directly challenging national sovereignty. The culprits must be condemned in the strongest terms and punished in accordance with the law.
External forces who are trying to contain China's rise and their local proxies — including members of the political opposition, who have their own political agenda to promote in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region — have unfailingly cited "freedom of expression" in defending and encouraging the radicals, who, riding on the extradition bill controversy, are waging a fierce anti-government campaign.
But the wanton violence unleashed by the extremists over the weekend once again exposed the China-bashers' hypocrisy and ulterior motives. The radical protesters repeatedly attacked police officers in the line of duty, using firebombs, fire extinguishers, iron bars, bricks, laser beams, helmets, umbrellas and other objects. And, as well as vandalizing police vehicles, starting fires in various places and blocking some thoroughfares with barriers, they also laid siege to and attacked police stations and the services quarters where off-duty officers and their families live.
None of these is within the boundary of freedom of expression in any civilized society under any system of law. Rather, they are a blatant challenge to Hong Kong's rule of law.
The Hong Kong SAR authorities, particularly its law enforcers, are obliged to uphold the rule of law, which is the foundation of the SAR's long-term stability and prosperity, with whatever efforts and measures are necessary. The clearest way to appreciate what the rule of law means to everyday life is to see how everyday life in the SAR has been affected.
The persistent and wanton violence unleashed by the radical protesters day after day, week after week, suggests that kid-glove tactics will not be effective in stopping the violence and keeping extremism and anarchism at bay.
To prevent Hong Kong from sliding further into the abyss of lawlessness, the Hong Kong Police Force, while maintaining its admirable professionalism, needs to adopt tactics whereby it can net as many rioters as possible in its anti-riot operations as a means of deterrence. The judiciary meanwhile should do its part to counter the threat of anarchism to Hong Kong's rule of law by ensuring the culprits face the full wrath of the law. The law enforcement authorities in the SAR can count on the full support of the central authorities in their fight against the law-breakers.