Police Say Protesters Used ‘Lethal Violence’: Hong Kong Update
(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong police fired more than 1,400 tear gas rounds and hundreds of rubber bullets Tuesday, a figure that represented roughly half of all volleys shot over months of protest, and illustrated the scope of violence on one of the city’s fiercest days of clashes.
Police said Wednesday that protesters had used “lethal violence” against officers, wielding objects including hammers, iron rods and sharpened umbrellas to hit an officer’s head and body before his colleague shot a demonstrator in the chest with live ammunition, the first such incident during the Asian financial hub’s unrest. The move could fuel the anger of pro-democracy protesters, for whom an independent investigation into police tactics is a key demand.
Simultaneous rallies against Beijing’s increasing grip raged across the former British colony on Tuesday hours after President Xi Jinping oversaw celebrations marking 70 years of Communist rule in China.
Here’s the latest (all times local):
1,407 rounds of tear gas fired (5:42 p.m.)
Police officers fired 1,407 tear gas volleys, 923 rounds of rubber bullets and 192 bean bag rounds on Tuesday, John Tse, chief superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch, told reporters at a daily briefing.
The officer who shot the 18-year-old protester with live ammunition did so to protect his life and that of his colleague after being threatened by “rioters” who used weapons including an iron rod, Deputy Commissioner Tang Ping-keung said. If the threats had come from from further away, officers would have had choices besides a gun, but the officer had to fire the weapon to save himself and his colleague from “great danger,” Tang said.
Protesters used “lethal violence” including a hammer, iron rod and sharpened umbrella to hit the officer’s head and body before the gun shot, said Wong Wai-shun, senior superintendent of the police’s operations bureau. Cable TV reported earlier that the man shot had the bullet removed during an operation and is expected to survive.
‘Flash mob’ in business hub (1:47 p.m.)
Thousands of people marched through part of Hong Kong’s financial center at lunchtime in a “flash mob” style protest that temporarily blocked traffic on some main roads, even as office life in the city was largely back to normal after Tuesday’s clashes.
Earlier in the day, the Civil Human Rights Front, which has organized some of the summer’s largest marches, said on its Facebook page that it will plan another “large-scale mobilization” to respond to the police’s escalating use of force and to show solidarity with the shot protester. “From now on, Oct.1 will be an anniversary for suppression on Hong Kong people with live rounds,” it said. “We will be even more united, even more determined in our resistance until the day the five demands are met.”
‘Extremists’ hurt city’s reuptation: business group (12:44 p.m.)
The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce said it “strongly condemns the grave violence and vandalism” in the city Tuesday, urging restraint and the start of peaceful dialogue. According to its website, the group features prominent local names: CK Asset chairman Victor Li is a vice chair of its general committee and HSBC’s Asia-Pacific chief executive Peter Wong is deputy chairman.
“Extremists’ chilling disregard for the rule of law is not only affecting Hong Kong’s reputation as an international financial and business centre, but also crippling many small businesses and threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens,” it said in an emailed statement.
Shot protester in stable condition (11:49 a.m.)
As of 9:30 a.m., 104 people have been hospitalized as a result of Tuesday’s events, a spokeswoman for the city’s Hospital Authority said, with two people in critical condition and two others considered serious. She said the protester hit with live ammunition, previously identified as an 18-year-old man, was stable at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Morning commute largely smooth (10 a.m.)
The city’s busy morning commute went smoothly for the most part on Wednesday morning despite threats of disruption after the previous day’s violence. China Construction Bank (Asia) Corp. said in a statement that it would close two branches in Kowloon for the day.
Signs of slowdown on train line (7:56 a.m.)
Travel times on the Kwun Tong Line between Whampoa Station and Tiu Keng Leng Station could be extended by 15 to 20 minutes “due to improper use of train facilities” at Yau Tong Station, Hong Kong’s rail operator the MTR Corp. said on its website Wednesday. Longer wait times on Kwun Tong Line platforms can be expected.
Protesters call for train disruptions (7:25 a.m.)
On social media outlets, demonstrators called for a mass disruption of subway services during the commute on Wednesday. They also plan to gather at a courthouse in West Kowloon at 9:30 a.m., when almost 100 people arrested on Sunday were expected to appear.
At 1 p.m., a general strike is planned at locations around the city, including downtown.
Calls for general strike on Wednesday (12:50 a.m.)
Some 96 people charged with rioting in Sept. 29 protests are set to appear in courts on Wednesday, Apple Daily reported. There have been calls online for a general strike also on Wednesday, while the scale of any possible participation is hard to gauge at the moment.
Lo says day was among ‘most violent’ (11:50 p.m.)
At a press conference that started shortly before midnight in Hong Kong, police commissioner Stephen Lo said that more than 180 people were arrested for offenses including rioting during the protests on Tuesday. A total of 25 officers were injured, Lo said, adding that it was one of the “most violent and chaotic days” in the city.
Lo described the shot that injured an 18-year-old protester as “reasonable” and “lawful,” saying that the split-second decision by the officer involved was the best decision under the circumstances. The lives of the officer who discharged his weapon and his colleagues were under serious threat, the police commissioner said, as an officer was pushed onto the ground and colleagues who tried to help him up were attacked by protesters with bricks and sharpened poles. Six live rounds were fired on Tuesday, including two warning shots, he said.
“I urge protesters, if you really have lofty ideals for the good of Hong Kong, everyone should calm down and give some room to the society to do so, and consider whether endless violence should be used to achieve your demands.”
The shot protester is currently under arrest, but Lo was not able to provide a detailed update on his condition, deferring to the hospital for any details.
Separately, U.S. Republican lawmakers harshly criticized the Chinese Communist Party, drawing a sharp contrast with President Trump’s congratulatory message to Xi on the anniversary.
U.K. says use of force ‘disproportionate’ (9:50 p.m.)
U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the use of live ammunition by authorities in Hong Kong was “disproportionate, and only risks inflaming the situation.”
“This incident underlines the need for a constructive dialog to address the legitimate concerns of the people of Hong Kong,” Raab said in an emailed statement. “We need to see restraint and a de-escalation from both protesters and the Hong Kong authorities.”
Previous comments by the British government about the unrest in its former colony have triggered an angry reaction from Beijing.
Two people in critical condition (7:49 p.m.)
As of 6 p.m., 31 people ages 18 to 75 had been hospitalized for injuries suffered during the day’s events, with two in critical and one in serious condition, a spokeswoman for Hong Kong‘s Information Services Department said by phone, citing information from the Hospital Authority.
Police confirm protester shot (7:23 p.m.)
Hong Kong’s police force confirmed in a video posted to Facebook that an 18-year-old man was shot during a protest Tuesday and was conscious when sent to local Princess Margaret Hospital. He was shot near the left shoulder during clashes with officers in the Tsuen Wan area, Senior Superintendent Yolanda Yu said in video posted to the police force’s Facebook page. The lives of the officer who discharged the weapon and the officer’s colleagues were “under serious threat” during the incident, Yu said.
Video shows protester shot in scuffle (6:30 p.m.)
A brief video released by Campus TV, the University of Hong Kong’s student union television station, appeared to show a police officer shooting a protester in the chest after being struck in the arm with a stick. It occurred during a clash between a small group of black-clad protesters and masked riot police in the northern area of Tsuen Wan.
A police spokeswoman said they were still trying to verify the details of the incident.
Trump congratulates Xi (6:54 p.m.)
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been locked in a protracted trade war with Xi, tweeted his congratulations to his Chinese counterpart.
“Congratulations to President Xi and the Chinese people on the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Protester shot with live ammunition: media (5:11 p.m.)
A protester was hit in the chest by a live round fired by police in Tsuen Wan, the South China Morning Post reported, citing an unnamed source. The newspaper said officers and first aid workers were seen tending to the man on the street. Local outlets Now TV and Cable TV also said police had fired a live round which injured a protester, each citing an unidentified source.
Cable TV said a man was shot in the left lung and was in critical condition, citing sources. When reached for comment, a police spokeswoman said they were still trying to verify the reports.
Fifteen people were injured and hospitalized during Tuesday’s events, with one man in critical condition and receiving treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital, a spokesman at the city’s Hospital Authority said by phone. The hospital is located in a neighboring district to Tsuen Wan. It was unclear if the person in critical condition was related to the reported shooting.
MTR stations closed across city (4:20 p.m.)
Local train operator MTR Corp. said more than 20 stations were closed across Hong Kong, including in busy areas such as Wan Chai, Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Prince Edward.
“Let’s see how they react -- I mean, the government. If they try to stop listening to us again then we will try to come out again and again. The government stopped listening to us and they just pretend they value us,” a 27-year-old university student who gave her name as Chong said about the future of the movement.
Police say officers and reporters injured (4 p.m.)
Hong Kong’s police force said protesters used corrosive fluid and injured “multiple police officers and reporters” in the Tuen Mun area near the Chinese border. In a tweet, police showed photos of what appeared to be chemical burns on an injured officer’s upper body, a bloodied hand and uniforms with burn marks and holes. “The police strongly condemn the violent acts and appeal to members of the public to mind their personal safety,” the force said.
Police also issued a warning to people gathered in the suburban town of Sha Tin, saying “radical protesters” had built barricades and paralyzed traffic in the vicinity. “Having given repeated warnings in vain, police officers have deployed tear gas and appropriate force to disperse the protesters,” they said in a statement.
Central crowds thin (3:10 p.m.)
As a mass march from Causeway Bay to Central reached its end point, some of the crowd dispersed while others made their way to the Sheung Wan neighborhood nearby. Figo Chan of the Civil Human Rights Front, the organizer which had planned an October 1 march only to see it banned by police, said more than 100,000 people had turned out.
The number of people who gathered for a rally in the Sham Shui Po area of Kowloon thinned out as the crowd ran from police, and only a few dozen remained, trying to decide where to go. Tear gas was fired at demonstrators in the Sha Tin and Tsuen Wan districts.
Police fire tear gas (2:40 p.m.)
Hong Kong police fired tear gas at protesters in the Wong Tai Sin area of Kowloon, earlier in the day than in recent protests. The force has come under scrutiny for what demonstrators say are aggressive tactics used to disperse them, including the clouds of tear gas that have floated over rallies in recent months, and an independent inquiry into their behavior is one of the movement’s key demands. Police said Monday that they had fired 328 rounds during a violent day of protest Sunday.
Demonstrators dismantle railings (2:15 p.m.)
Some protesters dismantled railings outside the New Town Plaza shopping center in Sha Tin, according to live feeds from local outlet Apple Daily. Meanwhile, as people marched in the city center, some carried international flags and chanted: “Fight for Hong Kong, fight for freedom.” Cable TV reported that part of Hennessy Road, a main thoroughfare through Hong Kong’s financial hub, had been occupied by demonstrators.
“We are hoping to get international support and this is giving us more energy. We do not want to this to continue as we hope the five demands will be met as soon as possible. We have to keep fighting if they can’t be met in the short term,” said a protesters who gave his name as Mr. Lee. He was holding a Brazilian flag and said he’d been taking to the streets since early June.
Protesters amass in parts of city (1:40 p.m.)
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in central areas of Hong Kong, forming a sea of black as they marched from shopping and tourism hub Causeway Bay in the direction of Central. Some people held out their palms and five fingers to symbolize the movement’s five demands, and others held black balloons. People stepped on posters of leader Carrie Lam, police commissioner Stephen Lo, and pro-establishment lawmaker Junius Ho that lay on the ground.
Since the handover from British rule, the mainland has to an extent destroyed Hong Kong’s status as an international finance center, said a marcher who gave her name as Wong, 43, an employee at a manufacturing factory. “They didn’t keep their promise in implementing universal suffrage.”
Riot police also gathered in the Sha Tin area of the New Territories as crowds arrived. The neighborhood has seen fierce clashes between protesters and police in recent weeks. Crowds came out despite afternoon temperatures that reached 91 degrees fahrenheit (32 celsius).
Protesters begin gathering (1 p.m.)
Hundreds of demonstrators began arriving in central areas of Hong Kong. In Causeway Bay, some handed out “V for Vendetta” masks and chanted: “There are no rioters, only tyranny! Five demands, not one less!”
“We are willing to fight for democracy and freedom in Hong Kong and China. We want to show the whole world Hong Kong people are eager to use peaceful ways” to achieve their demands, said Leung Kwok-hung, a local politician and co-organizer of a Tuesday march from Causeway Bay to Central, as he joined the crowd.
Hong Kong makes more arrests (11:25 a.m.)
Hong Kong’s police said they had made 16 arrests so far on Tuesday, with charges including participating in an illegal assembly and the illegal possession of offensive weapons. Those arrested were between the ages of 17 and 36, officials said at a briefing. More than 1,500 people have been arrested since demonstrations kicked off in early June, and amnesty for those detained has become one of the pro-democracy movement’s major demands.
China rolls out military might (11 a.m.)
The world got a glimpse of China’s newest and most advanced defense technology, as a mass military pageant rolled through Beijing. Roughly 40% of the armaments will be shown officially for the first time, according to Chinese state television. That includes the Dongfeng-17, or DF-17, a ballistic missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle that can execute evasive maneuvers at superfast speeds to evade existing missile defense systems. There was also the DF-41 -- one of the world’s longest-range missiles -- which is capable of hitting the continental U.S.
Xi pledges national unity (10:15 a.m.)
Xi vowed to press ahead with the “complete unification of the country” in a speech to start a grand military parade through Tiananmen Square. The address, which referenced similar remarks Mao Zedong made proclaiming the People’s Republic’s founding on Oct. 1, 1949, briefly touched the status of Hong Kong, saying China remained committed to the “one country, two systems” framework that has governed the Asian financial center since its return from British rule in 1997.
“China yesterday is already engraved in the history of mankind,” Xi said, wearing the dark tunic Communist Party chiefs don for such occasions. “China today is created by hundreds of millions of hard-working Chinese. And China tomorrow will be even more prosperous.”
The president, who also serves as head of the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission, then rode past the assembled troops standing in the sunroof a dark Red Flag limousine. “Follow the party! Fight to win! Build exemplary conduct!” the troops chanted as he passed.
Xi arrives in Tiananmen Square (10 a.m.)
Xi arrived in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square accompanied by current and former state leaders, including predecessors Hu Jintao, 76, and Jiang Zemin, 93. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang gave an official pronouncement to start the ceremony, followed by an honor guard marching from the Monument to the People’s Heroes across the square to the fire of a 70-gun salute. The national flag was raised as Xi sang along with the country’s anthem, “March of the Volunteers.”
Smoggy skies in Beijing (9:30 a.m.)
The Chinese capital was wreathed in a visible layer of thick smog Tuesday morning as columns of Chinese troops lined up for the military parade in Beijing. The city was ranked the seventh most polluted city in the world by AirVisual, while the U.S. embassy air pollution monitor in Beijing showed an air quality index of 159. Generally, policy makers in Beijing -- who have been praised for making progress on smog in recent years -- try and reduce air pollution ahead of major events by shutting down industry or through other measures. A number of other Chinese cities -- including Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chongqing -- were among the top 12 most polluted cities in the world along with Hong Kong, according to AirVisual.
Cheung vows dialogue (8:12 a.m.)
Hong Kong’s acting leader, Matthew Cheung, said China continues to be “fully supportive” of the city’s government to govern the city amid the wave of unrest. “Some radical protesters have consistently escalated violence, including illegal assembly, blocking roads, throwing petrol bombs, setting fires and attacking citizens,” Cheung said. “It’s not only harming the social order, but also impacting on the rule of law in the city and citizens’ safety, as well as weighing further on the economy, which has already seen downward pressure.”
He also warned about the economic fallout from the protests, saying “trade relationships have turned complicated in recent months and are getting increasingly tense.” Cheung reaffirmed Hong Kong’s commitment to dialogue, days after Chief Executive Carrie Lam faced a barrage of questions about her government’s handling of the unrest during her first town-hall-style dialogue session.
More train stations closed (8 a.m.)
Amid planned protests on Tuesday, subway operator MTR Corp. announced additional station closures as a “prudent measure to ensure the safety of passengers and our staff.” The operator said the Causeway Bay, Sham Shui Po, Wong Tai Sin, Sha Tin, Che Kung Temple, Tsuen Wan West and Tuen Mun stations would be closed from 11 a.m. The transit company had earlier said that the central Admiralty and Wan Chai stations, as well as Kowloon’s Prince Edward station, would remain closed.
Major malls throughout the city including the upscale mall at the International Financial Centre in Central were also closed for the day.
Flag raising ceremony (8 a.m.)
Riot cops guarded an early morning flag-raising ceremony at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in the center of the city amid worries that protesters would try and disrupt the event. Lam left the event to her number 2 official, chief secretary Cheung, after announcing that she would travel to Beijing for the festivities.
Subway closures (10:45 p.m., Monday)
The MTR Corp. announced various subway closures on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon ahead of the Oct. 1 protests. The transit company said its trains would not stop at the city’s central Admiralty and Wan Chai stops or the Prince Edward station on the other side of the harbor
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