With six confirmed cases of coronavirus in Hong Kong, the government there is determined to nip the looming health crisis in the bud. Travel from the Chinese mainland has already been cut off, and the government is taking measures to limit the effects of the virus. But some of its actions are angering Hong Kong’s citizens.
In particular, a government plan to use some areas of public housing as a quarantine area for coronavirus patients was met with protests and demonstrations. Some people don’t want the quarantines there because they don’t want the patients to be so close to where they live, while others don’t want to see people forced out of their homes to make way for the quarantine. This is in a city in which housing is already scarce, apartments are small, and rents are incredibly expensive.
With anti-government protests that began last year only recently having slowed down, the government’s latest plans ignited yet more demonstrations, indicating that the Hong Kong government just doesn’t have what it takes to lead the city. It continually takes actions that meet with popular resistance. It’s almost as though city leaders brainstorm about what they can do that will meet with the most popular opposition, then decide to go a few steps further.
While the government is planning to backtrack on some of its plans to use public housing for quarantine patients, at some point the government will have to find a place to house those people, assuming the virus’ outbreak hasn’t gotten too unmanageable and become too widespread. And as long as Hong Kong residents are willing to take to the streets and protest the government’s numerous missteps, it looks like 2020, like 2019, could be another difficult one for the Hong Kong government to navigate. Will the coronavirus be the impetus behind yet another year of anti-government resistance in Hong Kong? It very well might be.