In recent months, protests in Hong Kong regarding the Chinese government’s influence over domestic affairs within the region have been anything but calm, but over the past week, tensions between protestors and riot police forces have undoubtedly reached a breaking point.

As foreign news outlets reveal that police officers backed by the Chinese government have begun shooting protestors for the first time, experts worry that Communist Party higher-ups will respond to the public’s renewed calls for independent governance with increasing violence.

From an international viewpoint, the protests have already demonstrated the chilling power of the Chinese government to crush dissent and centralize power in its quest for absolute political control of its territories.

In many ways, the political crisis in Hong Kong already resembles a dystopian world reminiscent of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four”; not only are facial-recognition scanners being used to identify and arrest dissidents in mass numbers, but widespread reports also indicate that government authorities are allegedly currently harvesting the organs of political prisoners

Meanwhile, much of the world looks on in silence as China continues to break its citizenry on the wheel of authoritarian governance.

But such results were not always seen as an inevitable flashpoint in HK-China relations. In Hong Kong, for example, protests have always been conventionally seen as a natural extension of the independence movement that existed long before Britain decolonized the region in 1997.

In recent years, however, the potential for China to sweep away the civil liberties of Hong Kong’s population has undone any goodwill that may have tentatively existed between the region’s independent-minded residents and the Chinese government. Undoubtedly, the brutal tactics used by riot police within the city and its surrounding areas have now marred any possibility of peaceful compromise between protestors and government representatives from the mainland.

Whether Hong Kong will succeed in upending Chinese efforts to silence the region’s protestors is anyone’s guess, but many people view the brutality with which China currently silences its dissenting voices as a stark reminder of the Jinping regime’s ruthlessness. And with a flurry of media reports indicating that American companies and government representatives will largely stay silent on issues related to China’s human rights violations, the future may hold very dark days indeed for Hong Kong’s residents.