The hundreds of men dressed in white who beat up Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters last week were thought to be affiliated with the notorious triad organized-crime gangs, but according to the AP, the triads' main role in the violence was to round up people in "rural areas" like Yuen Long and paying them to participate in the beatings.
The AP cites T. Wing Lo, "an organized crime expert at the City University of Hong Kong," who estimated that the bill for the violence would be on the order of HKD10m/USD1.28M, and that the individual thugs would likely be paid HKD2000/USD250 for their participation.
Triads have previously been used as recruiters to commit violent assaults on both pro-democracy and anti-democracy protesters, and have no particular ideological commitment either way (Lo: "The Hong Kong triad only works for money, not for political ideology. They will work for anyone").
The AP doesn't say who paid the thugs, but they quote the University of Toronto's Lynette Ong, who studies markets for hired thugs in China and Hong Kong, as saying that the Chinese government has hired thugs to do this kind of thing during previous periods of unrest.
Who are the men in white behind Hong Kong’s mob attack? [Yanan Wang/AP]
(via Naked Capitalism)
Ahead of today’s march, Hong Kong protesters have put together this video reading out their manifesto.— Jerome Taylor (@JeromeTaylor) July 21, 2019
The same manifesto was read out during the parliament siege on Jul 1.
This version is in English and very much aimed at an international audiencehttps://t.co/5fdwc0SfKa
Internet video shows triad members in Yuen Long of #HongKong gather & pose threat to peaceful protestors.— Craig Choy (@CraigChoy) July 21, 2019
How long #HKSAR government & @hkpoliceforce can go to tolerate these triad members? Have they got a non-objection notice of gathering? pic.twitter.com/RzqoN4CJHZ