The exception was Mr. Lee.
As the movement around him became more combative, Mr. Lee called for counterproductive violence and pressed for the renewal of China’s promises. He did so despite the escalating Chinese state media campaign against him, which called him a “die-hard proxy for foreign Antichinese forces” and named him l one in a “gang of Four”, that Beijing has caused unrest.
Even his arrest in April for participating in an “unauthorized meeting” last year – a charge that many openly called political, given his relatively low involvement in the latest protests – which has not changed by Mr. Lee message. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.
Mr. Lee described his consistency as a moral imperative. But he put it on a collision course with the movement he helped found. While he said he respected the younger generation of frustrations, he called his laam caau naive philosophy, and said calls for independence cost Hong Kong its international support.
“Laam caau people, they don’t have a clue,” said Lee, who, while still courteous, can be strangely dull. “If you start the revolution, and then you are totally depressed, many people will die with you. So how is it Hong Kong? ”
The abandonment of negotiations only gives China an excuse to suppress, he said. “Don’t be so stupid, and say,‘ OK, you’re walking away from that, so are we, ”he said. “You are falling into their trap.”