Teenage Protester Shot in Hong Kong as National Day Protests Turn Violent

After police banned a planned march in Hong Kong on China’s National Day, protesters organized a series of unauthorized protests throughout the city, some of which in Kowloon and the New Territories turned violent. A police office shot an 18-year-old high school student protester, in the first use of live ammunition since the protest movement began almost four months ago. At the time of writing, the victim was in critical condition in the hospital. From the BBC:

A video shows the injured man lying on the ground, saying: “Send me to hospital. My chest is hurting, I need to go to hospital.”

Video of the shooting shows a police officer opening fire with a revolver at a man swinging what appears to be a metal pole, as a group of protesters confront riot police.

Police say their officers were attacked and the policeman who opened fire did so as he “felt his life was under serious threat”.

“He fired a round at the assailant to save his own life and his colleagues’ lives,” Senior Supt Yolanda Yu Hoi-kwan was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post. [Source]

A video of the shooting by the University of Hong Kong Student Union’s Campus TV was distributed widely online:

Additional footage shows the chaos before and after the shooting:

On Twitter, activist Joshua Wong pushed back against allegations that the officer was acting in self-defense:

Mike Ives at The New York Times reports on how the protests in Hong Kong provided a stark contrast to the military parade going on in central Beijing at the same time to celebrate the People’s Republic of China’s 70th birthday:

The protesters in Hong Kong hoped to upstage Beijing’s celebrations by holding their own unauthorized marches. Violence quickly broke out, as demonstrators in districts across the city engaged in some of the bloodiest and most sustained clashes since protesters began taking to the streets in early June.

The split screen — pageantry in Beijing versus violence, tear gas and street fires in a restive Chinese territory — was hardly the image that China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, had hoped to show the world.

The protester was shot in the Tsuen Wan district of northern Hong Kong. Tsuen Wan is a working-class area near Hong Kong’s border with the Chinese mainland, miles from the city’s gleaming financial district. [Source]

Police also used tear gas and water cannons against protesters on Tuesday. As the protests further devolved into violence, at least 66 people were injured and 180 arrested, according to the South China Morning Post, which also published a live blog of the day’s events:

The fighting continued well into the night, leaving a trail of destruction across Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories. In total, 66 people were injured and more than 180 arrested.

The MTR Corporation continued to be targeted by protesters, who accuse the railway operator of colluding with police. Protesters lit fires at the entrances to several closed stations, including Wan Chai, Sham Shui Po and Causeway Bay.

Government offices, shops owned by Beijing-friendly businesses and at least three offices of pro-establishment lawmakers were also vandalised and defaced. [Source]

Tuesday’s protests followed a weekend of marches–on Saturday to mark the five-year anniversary of the Umbrella Movement, and on Sunday as part of a global action against totalitarianism. The protests Sunday turned violent and police fired tear gas into the crowds and arrested dozens of protesters, including a 12-year-old. It also marked the 17th consecutive weekend of protests in Hong Kong since June. Protesters have become increasingly focused on the issue of police violence in recent weeks. Amnesty International called for an investigation into Tuesday’s shooting, while the Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned the Hong Kong Police Force’s violent tactics against journalists covering the protests.

Chun Han Wong and Jeremy Page at The Wall Street Journal examine the history of Xi Jinping’s policies regarding Hong Kong–including the legacy of his father, who oversaw Hong Kong affairs for Beijing after the Cultural Revolution–and how they have led to the current crisis in the territory:

Chinese officials publicly blame the turmoil in Hong Kong on foreign meddling and economic frustration. Privately, some admit they failed to appreciate public anger over the sense of gradual erosion, under Mr. Xi, of the city’s relative political freedom. Even some of Beijing’s champions in Hong Kong cite a failure of internal communication and decision-making within the central and local governments.

[…] “In the early years, Beijing was happy to leave Hong Kong alone,” said Bernard Chan, a member of China’s parliament and Hong Kong’s Executive Council. “From 2003 onward, we had massive economic and social integration” but no corresponding political integration. “The mistake that we made was that maybe we never found ways to deal with the effects of this integration.”

Beijing officials had the sense that Hong Kong people hadn’t quite come back to the fold emotionally, said Christine Loh, a former Hong Kong government official. Mr. Xi oversaw a drive to educate Hong Kongers about China’s achievements. In 2010, the city’s government said schools would introduce a new subject: Moral and National Education.

[…] Mr. Xi sensed the rise of a separatist movement, according to Chen Zuo’er, a former deputy director of the Chinese government’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. In July 2012 Mr. Xi “issued the party center’s first combat order to purge Hong Kong independence elements,” Mr. Chen said, according to a transcript of a speech he gave in 2017. [Source]

At The New York Times, Peter S. Goodman and Austin Ramzy report on how Hong Kong’s role vis-à-vis mainland China is changing, especially since Xi Jinping took power in 2012:

But now Hong Kong’s status as neutral ground between mainland China and the outside world is being threatened by a pair of momentous confrontations. As President Trump increases tariffs on Chinese goods in his trade war, the value of Hong Kong as a hub for commerce is being diminished. And as protesters filling Hong Kong’s streets accuse China of breaching a deal that was supposed to protect the territory’s democratic norms, the endurance of its semiautonomous status appears in doubt.

[…] “We will see a different Hong Kong,” said Lynette H. Ong, a China expert at the University of Toronto. “The very reason for Hong Kong’s existence — the rule of law, respect for the police, for public institutions, respect for the judiciary, the bureaucracy — everything has been eroded.”

[…] “Everyone is very clear about what China’s system is like,” said Yoyo Chan, a 17-year-old student. “Cruel things can happen there, such as concentration camps, and it’s all frightening. Even before the extradition bill was drafted, a few booksellers in Hong Kong had disappeared into China. In a place like Hong Kong, where we have freedom of speech, we don’t want to lose things integral to us.”

[…] “Hong Kong is a good place for business,” said Trevor Ma, 31, founder of Gethemall, an online clothing store. “But the most important thing is freedom. The atmosphere should not just be one where we’re getting enough money. We should be able to say anything without threat. That’s not the case in Hong Kong right now.” [Source]

Images and videos from Tuesday’s protests circulated on Twitter:

Read more about the ongoing protest movement in Hong Kong, via CDT.


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