The 2016 Mongkok Riot in Hong Kong
The Mongkok riot was an expression of anti-governmental, anti-mainlandization and anti-CCP sentiments on the part of some young Hong Kong localists. They were determined to protect the hawkers, who symbolized not only the local cultural heritage but also the working-class citizens who could not afford to invest in the delicious food carts as introduced by the Hong Kong government. While Beijing quickly condemned the localist rioters, the Hong Kong government swiftly labeled the event as a riot. If rioters are defined as anti-governmental activists who resort to violent means to achieve their political ends, the Mongkok incident was definitely a riot as the localist protestors used not only bricks to attack the police but also arson to prevent the police from pursuing them. However, it is ironic to see that while the 1967 riot in Hong Kong was instigated by the pro-Beijing activists, the 2016 Mongkok riot was led by the anti-Beijing localists who had a strong sense of Hong Kong identity. The police handling of the two incidents adopted the similar tactic of suppression. Yet, the origins of the two riots were beyond the control of the police. The 1967 riot was a spillover effect from China’s Cultural Revolution, which stimulated the local leftists and Maoists to determine to oppose the British colonial rule by violent means. The 2016 Mongkok riot stemmed from the political will of some young Hong Kong people to fight against the police which symbolized the unpopular HKSAR leadership, to resist the mainlandization of the HKSAR, to oppose the central government’s political intervention in Hong Kong matters, and to protect the working-class hawkers whose attempt to earn their living was obstructed by the FEHD on the night of the police-localists confrontation.