Hong Kong has been put on notice that President Xi Jinping is coming to town in July, and our paramilitary police force are preparing for war against all who might object to his heavenly presence.

If you thought the operation to protect Zhang Dejiang was overkill, well you haven’t seen anything yet. Communist mouthpieces, masquerading as international newspapers in the city, now take every opportunity to tell the unarmed public just how armed and dangerous our police are.

/HKFP remix.

This is a gang not to be trifled with, so take heed. They’ve been shopping! And now come with water cannons, rubber bullets, pepper grenades and fire resistant armour weighing an impressive 5.5kg. Good luck wearing that in July.

So this is a warning to all. Begone with those dissenting thoughts against The Party or our unelected chief executive, before you get a newly purchased pepper ball in your face. On the auspicious occasion of the 20th anniversary of the communist takeover of Hong Kong we can certainly expect to see another Fortress Wanchai set up.

We can also expect a complete shake-down of the city’s peripheries, where, under the guise of eliminating terrorism, the city will be thoroughly sanitized of all political and popular discontent.

File Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Which raises the question: if our police force is going to protect Xi from the reality of Hong Kong, why bother coming in the first place? If the heart of an international city is to be turned into a temporary Zhongnanhai, why not stay in the safety of Beijing and swear in the chief executive from there?

It would save everyone the hassle and cost of turning the city into a baby bubble to protect Xi and his stalwarts from reality.

Having said this, there is a minuscule possibility of a terrorist attack in the city. Recently Uyghur fighters attached to ISIS have made threats against China, promising rivers of blood. So, sure, surround Xi with guns and put other specially trained police on the ground to handle any other eventuality.

However, we all know that the police operation in July will go far beyond personal protection. Citizens of Hong Kong who support democracy are just as steadfast as the police in not wanting to see a terrorist attack in the city and are actually allies, not enemies, in such a fight.

Hundreds of protesters marked the second anniversary of the pro-democracy Occupy protests. Photo: P.H. Yang.

Yet the policy of the police and government is to put domestic political opposition and international terrorism into the same basket. No good will come from treating the political opposition as domestic terrorists on a par with hardened Uyghur fighters.

To justify the blanket political suppression now being planned, the Communist Party narrative has already kicked off, starting with Li Keqiang’s warning about the zero tolerance of any Independence movement and how successionism is beyond the remit of free speech.

But before you blame the nearest localist for jeopardizing your freedom of speech, be aware that come July 1st it won’t be just independence advocates who will be suppressed from airing their views in front of the emperor, it will be everyone. Hong Kong independence is just a pretext. The concerted attack by the Communist Party on free speech won’t stop with them.

Given all this, it remains to be seen how the city’s traditional July 1st march and a visit by the Heavenly King can be married happily. One can only imagine that discontented citizens will want to vent their frustration at such an important event, and the potential for things to get out of hand will greatly increase.

A pro-Beijing rally in February 2016. File photo: Dan Garrett.

So, to bring us full circle, this is why, now in March, we see the police flashing their teeth and revealing their newly sharpened claws. It’s a warning to the public to behave and stay home.

Yet, what the myopic leaders in the government and police fail to realise is that they’ve already lost the fight before it’s even begun. No matter how many weapons they bring to the street, it only remains to be seen how much they will lose.

Every pepper ball explosion and plastic bullet fired will contribute to the embarrassing conclusion that One Country Two Systems, 20 years on, is a failure. The world will be watching and I’m certain Hong Kongers will not be cowed!

Richard Scotford

Richard is a freelance writer and long term resident of Hong Kong. He has a Master's Degree in Chinese Studies from CUHK and describes himself as a noisy muser on all things China. He has travelled extensively in Western China and once owned a trekking lodge high on the Tibetan border. He has a raw style of Opinion Journalism, with special interests in the South China Seas and deciphering Hong Kong's Localist/Independence groups.