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Hong Kong: Category 1 phase of insurgency — will it go beyond this?

I do not know. And so I keep watching and listening, and going to protests, to keep finger on the pulse.

Some quick, unedited thoughts before I hit the streets:

I will say with confidence: we are witnessing the very first tendrils on Cat 1 insurgency. (To use the hurricane scale 1-5, with 5 being something like full-blown Iraq between roughly 2004-2007).

At this point, I peg inflection from general civil unrest to front edge of insurgency on about 01 July 2019, at LegCo break-in. I was there that night live streaming. At first I did not recognize this as symptomatic of insurgency — holding doubt that it might have held elements of false flag operation.

But now, with more information, I recognized LegCo break-in as the first definitive symptom of insurgency. Not just protest. Not just civil unrest. But insurgency.

In a nutshell:

1) Protest phase generally is simple and specific, such as “kill the extradition bill.” Very specific. Simple. (People are growling.)

2) General Civil Unrest is beyond. Nutshell, “Hey government! You are bad and need to do better!” In other words, no longer just talking about the bill, but that the government itself needs to shape up. (People are snarling — showing teeth.)

3) Insurgency: Nutshell, “Hey, government. You are illegitimate. Illegal. Not my master. You must go!” (People no longer growling and snarling. They start to nip and bite. Draw a little pain.)

INSURGENCY in a nutshell

Cat 1: Nipping and still snarling. Relatively minor economic attacks such as short closures of airport and MTR stations. Roads. Sides dehumanizing each other — calling each other dogs, roaches, etc. This is precursor to killing. (We are here right now. At lowest end of Cat 1. Just starting minor insurgency.)


Cat 2 Economic damage increases. Dehumanization increases in preparation for economic, political, and physical combat. Killing begins.

Cat 3 Areas of country become dangerous for police — people start dying in increasing numbers. Arson attacks. More. Substantial outflow of citizens to Taiwan, Japan, USA, Canada, Australia, Thailand, etc.

Direct attacks by or on PLA. Probably both.

Police and citizens regularly killing each other. Small police units overrun and weapons stolen.

Hospitals become increasingly contested area. Doctors without borders, etc, start coming in and protesting about human rights. Insurgents plea for outside medical help of medics/doctors from abroad.

Use of explosives and arson becomes normal and increases.

Triad and other opportunistic elements are uncorked to commit crime waves that can be mistaken for war, but really are just crimes such as bank robbery. Civil war to some degree. Ethnic and other organic fissures widen.

Many police quit for fear for families and self.

Tourism dries up.

Dangerous to walk streets at night in some areas.

Journalists targeted and often no idea who killed what journalist and for what reason.

Cat 4 Open battles for control of turf. Very kinetic. Civil war increases. Police are limited and must move only in large units. Very dangerous to travel.

Cat 5 Like Iraq — all out war. Politicians assassinated. Police in total fear for lives. Police stations overrun. Areas of country off limits to police. All elements of government legitimacy under attack.

Everyone loses, but someone finally wins.

I have no idea if this will even go to Cat 2-3. Today, we are at bottom end of Cat 1 and building steam.

And so, when I go to protests, it is not to take pictures. I am checking the patient. Hong Kong is becoming sicker.

USA and others MUST apply pressure on Beijing to back off. Meet all demands of protestors immediately. Turn off the gas. Now.

Consequences of mistakes at this point can be severe.

Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

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