The present unrest in Hong Kong, unless contained through compromise, might lead to an armed conflict as the government in Beijing is unlikely to give way to the demands of the demonstrators whose youthful fervour can bring a confrontation that mainland China will find hard to digest.
Diplomacy is the only way out of the crisis and the West must remain aloof and uninvolved so as to keep the temperature at a level where the Chinese authorities cannot realistically accuse them of inciting discord in a local dispute.
Mainland China, on the other hand, must take into account that Hong Kong is an important commercial link with the outside world and in that role it gives China the benefits of a free economy that can only enhance its prestige and have, so to speak, a share of an alternative and rich cake that would otherwise not be available to the Communist regime.
Wise counsel must therefore prevail on both sides of the equation and the return of common sense must invariably take place before real calamity ensues.
Watching the demonstrators on last night’s television and hearing the rhetoric of their young leaders I was struck by their lack of worldly grey matter, for they seem to be unaware that Hong Kong is no longer a British colony and is now irrevocably part of mainland China.
The privilege accorded to them in 1997 by Beijing only works at the discretion of their Communist bosses who must now feel that their rowdy protectorate is veering into a rebellion that must eventually be brought to heel.
China is a powerful country which should be handled with care. The people of Hong Kong will have to watch their step and prove to their masters that stability and goodwill on both sides is the only remedy to bring peace and prosperity to one of the great financial centres of the world.
With both Shanghai and Hong Kong working in tandem, China can boast two great cities to rival what the West can offer. It would therefore be a shame if yet another citadel of great financial clout falls victim to the miscalculations of its citizens.