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After LegCo Break-in, Hong Kong Assesses Damage

((INTRO)) [[A month into the latest round of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, events have taken a more aggressive turn. On this week’s anniversary of Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to China, young protesters broke into the city’s legislature, vandalizing and briefly occupying the building. As some protesters become more aggressive, VOA’s Bill Gallo looks at whether the move will hurt public support.]]

It was a turning point for what had largely been peaceful protests.

This week’s attack on the Legislative Council was an escalation for protesters who feel they have no other choice.

As officials now clean up the damage, pro-democracy activists are trying to assess if harm was done to their own movement.

((Angel Wong, Progressive Lawyers Group))

“Undeniably this is a controversial act, but we do understand why some protesters, they feel so desperate.”

That’s an extremely common sentiment among young people here, many of whom feel they haven’t benefited from Hong Kong’s immense wealth.

((Crystal, Hong Kong Resident))
“I may not agree with what they’re doing, but I understand the feeling, I share the anger, as well. I would say they acted on my behalf to break in.”

((Nathan, Coffee Shop Worker))
“I think it’s not a very, very big deal, because I think we should tell the government our feelings, and if they don’t care about us, we don’t care about them, too.”

((Howard Yiu, Web Developer))
“Yes, it is justified. We have brought peaceful demonstrations, and the government is not responding. And we escalate the action a little bit, and then the government backed down. So obviously peaceful demonstration is not a very effective means to make the government listen to you.”

The protests started over an extradition bill that could result in Hong Kong residents being sent to China. It’s part of broader concerns about great mainland control.

((Dave Zweig, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology))
“I see this very much as them just pushing back and saying, no, we’re gonna dig in. We’re gonna say no, you can’t do that. And that’s why they really want to see the bill withdrawn, not just put on hold.”

The problem is, the government isn’t giving in either. And China is set to fully take over Hong Kong in 2047.

((Dave Zweig, Professor Emeritus, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology))
“I believe that we’ve moved steadily along a continuum from passivity to protest to civil disobedience. And now we’ve moved into the realm of violence. And if that violence becomes acceptable, then Hong Kong’s in a little bit of trouble.”

A city on the edge, with China closing in.

((Bill Gallo. VOA News. Hong Kong.))