As China celebrated the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic with a fireworks display and the largest military parade seen on the mainland, Hong Kong marked National Day with protests, a student in critical condition after being shot by a police live round as fighting and tear gas spread across the city. The escalating violence has now reached such a dangerous point that there is an urgent need for all to step back and not to raise the stakes any higher. At risk is not only the city’s stability and prosperity, but also its relations with Beijing and role in the country’s development. Having experienced one of the most tumultuous weekends since the extradition bill movement erupted in June, the city braced for the worst. Train stations and shopping centres were closed as tens of thousands of people defied a police ban to march on Hong Kong Island. Clashes flared in other districts, with radicals hurling petrol bombs and blocking roads. Addressing yesterday’s parade and a reception on the eve of the anniversary in Beijing, President Xi Jinping pledged to uphold “one country, two systems and Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong”. For the first time, the city enjoyed a stronger presence in the parade under the theme of the one country, two systems principle. Therefore the importance attached to Hong Kong was beyond doubt. Few would have thought the turmoil sparked by the extradition bill , which the government recently announced it would withdraw, would have lasted until National Day. There were even fears that National Day was the deadline for a crackdown that would have seen emergency laws invoked and tanks on the streets. Thankfully, the city’s problems can still be resolved by the government on its own through the one country, two systems framework, albeit not in a manner as effective as it should be with the first session of community dialogue last week failing to instil confidence of an imminent breakthrough in the impasse. Concerns are growing that the relations between Hong Kong and Beijing may never be the same even when the unrest subsides. Be that as it may, the city’s future hinges on its ability to seize the opportunities and contribute to the Greater Bay Area and other national development initiatives. It is in our interest to put an end to the crisis and move forward with the country. How events on National Day will shape the days to come remains to be seen, but the pressure on Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to resolve the crisis will only grow as the unrest continues. Protesters must end the violence and police avoid the use of excessive force. It is imperative for all to exercise restraint to prevent further serious incidents from occurring.