On the evening of 21/July(Sun), criminal syndicate ‘triads’ attacked Yuen Long Train Station (located approx. 30km from the center of Hong Kong, in a commuter town), leaving people in a shock with fear for the future. Violent image of the group in ‘white T-shirt’, using batons and sticks to blindly attack crowds in the station and on train carriages, traveled the globe immediately via SNS. All strived to escape, but 45 were injured with 1 in critical condition, including pregnant woman, democratic lawmaker, and participants of ‘Black-shirt’ protest earlier in the day.
The attack came just after the ‘mass demonstration’ which newly escalated and shifted its direction of the protest from local government to Beijing’s liaison office within the city. As ‘triads’ chased ‘black-shirt’ (protesters on it’s way home) persistently, and the police took more than an hour to arrive, Hong Kong Police and Beijing is suspected to have had its hand in the plot.
The Dark Fraternity – Triad, Government, Police, and Beijing
Triads are organized crime syndicates, 57 groups are currently existing in Hong Kong, each with members from just a few to tens of thousands. The collusive relationship between triads and Hong Kong police force was at it’s peak during 1960s and early 70s, while the establishment of the ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption, 1974-) slowly destroyed this corrupt culture.
However, China’s chief law enforcement officer accepted triads saying “Members of triads are not aways gangsters” (1993), and many other Chinese leaders including Deng Xiaoping (Paramount leader of China during the time) called triads “patriotic organization”. Beijing had offered its hands to triads, leveraging good control of Hong Kong after the return (from British colonial rule) in 1997.
There is no doubt that Hong Kong law enforcement will always comment that the ‘triad organization’ itself is illegal, thus, above are all no more than an educated guess. However, I also add that in the 2014 Umbrella Revolution, 19 triad members paid by pro-China activists were arrested for violence targeted at protest participants.
Hong Kong ‘s dilemma with corruption in China
Transparency International (global anti-corruption NGO) conducts research of over 200 countries around the world looking into corruption amongst politicians and public workers, and issues “Corruption Perceptions Index” annually. According to the ranking in 2018, Hong Kong was the 14th cleanest country / region, better than Japan at 18th. However, the problem is China. China is rated only at 87th best.
It is important to keep in mind that… Hong Kong was returned to China, which is far more corrupt environment than itself.
The triad attack, is it a warning from Beijing?
A dark shadow is coving Hong Kong. Series of anti-extradition bill demonstrations prior to 21/July(Sun) were all directed toward Hong Kong local government, while for the first time, actions took place aimed at Beijing.
Protestors surrounded Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, threw bottles and eggs, and painted the Chinese national emblem with black ink. Dishonoring the ‘national emblem’ is one of the worst insult, which triggered immediate and severe condemnation by officials from mainland China. “These acts openly challenged the authority of the central government and touched the bottom line of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle,” (Hong Kong & Macau Affairs Office). Communist Party-run news papers denounced protesters’ behavior in similar terms.
In China, challenges or criticism toward central government or the ruling party have been the taboo, in fear of military suppression. Memories of Tiananmen Square protest which lead to massacre of demonstrators (the death toll vary from several hundred to several thousands) are still fresh, just 30 years ago.
Is the attack by triads in white-T shirts a warning from the central government Beijing? In any event, if local authorities may fail to suppress the situation, next in line is the “Chinese People’s Armed Police” (paramilitary police reporting directly to the Central Military Commission) from mainland China.
U.S. fueling the protest in Hong Kong?
Spokesperson of China’s Foreign Ministry made statement that U.S. agency is behind this protest in Hong Kong, “manipulated, orchestrated, and even organized relevant violent incidents”. Accusations are serious. It remains a big question, if CIA has taken action this time, similar to suspected events in the past; Iran, Guatemala, Chili, … and Tiananmen.