Beijing: The 75 day-long "Umbrella revolution" by pro-democracy protesters that shook Hong Kong and China has been "defeated", Chinese media claimed on Saturday sparking a raging debate about the future of democracy in the former British colony.
"The successful clearing operation (street protests) officially spelled defeat for the "umbrella revolution"-- the Hong Kong version of the "colour revolution", state-run China Daily said in its editorial.
Two days ago, the Hong Kong police cleared some of the main thoroughfares of the city which were occupied by thousands of protesters, who chose to withdraw to redraw their strategy.
Agitators, mainly students, were demanding China to repeal the rule to screen candidates for the 2017 elections for the chief executive of the city.
"By now, Hong Kong people know better that the "high level of autonomy" doesn't mean full autonomy, and nor is "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" in conflict with the central government's comprehensive jurisdiction over the Special Administrative Region (SAR)," the editorial titled "'Umbrella revolution' defeated" said.
Claiming that the "One Country, Two Systems" principle was designed not only to maintain stability and prosperity in the SAR, the Daily said it was also intended to safeguard the sovereignty, security and development of the whole Chinese nation. ?
It further said the movement's defeat has sent "a clear message" to hostile forces-- both local and overseas-- that on matters of principle, the central government will never make any concessions.
"And in a free and prosperous civil society such as Hong Kong, there is simply no soil for political schemers to advance their agenda," it said.
But the mood in Hong Kong was sombre and different.
Lawmakers and academics were generally despondent about the prospect of achieving universal suffrage for the election of the chief executive as Beijing has made it clear that it will not back down, the South China Morning Post reported.
Chen Zuoer, the former deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, called for a "rethink and planning on how to rule Hong Kong".
"Hong Kong people should be prepared for a possibly long-term struggle with the force that brings calamity to Hong Kong ? in aspects such as the law court, Legco, mass media, universities or even secondary schools," he said.
Professor Lau Siu-kai said: "Beijing is also kind of shocked to see people [fighting for democracy] through illegal actions ? and thus inclined towards [being more] conservative".
Joseph Chan Cho-wai, a professor at the University of Hong Kong, said that pan-democrats should now start efforts to negotiate for open elections beyond that date.