Police Warn `Rioters' After University Clashes: Hong Kong Update

Dominic Lau, Natalie Lung and Iain Marlow
Police Warn `Rioters' After University Clashes: Hong Kong Update

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong protesters called for disruption to the city’s busy commuter trains Wednesday, as clashes continued late into Tuesday evening. Police said “rioters threw bricks, petrol bombs, launched arrows and even fired a signal flare” at officers during clashes at a university.

The chaos follows a flare-up in violence after Hong Kong last week saw its first fatality linked to the protests that began in June against a bill that would’ve allowed extraditions to mainland China. While the proposal has since been withdrawn, demonstrators have widened their demands to include an independent inquiry into police violence and the ability to nominate and elect their own leaders -- both of which Beijing has rejected.

An intense day of clashes on Monday led to at least 260 arrests and around 100 people injured, including two critically. One man was shot by a police officer on Monday during the morning commute, while another was set on fire by protesters. Chief Executive Carrie Lam said last night the protesters wouldn’t achieve their goals through violence.

Key developments:

Protesters call for more disruptions to the city’s transport system on Wednesday morning.Tear gas was fired again in the heart of Hong Kong’s business and financial district as riot police confronted protesters who gathered in Central for a second day.Some subway stations were closed and schools and universities shut their doors as protests sprung up around the city.Clashes continued late into the night at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.The 21-year-old student protester who was shot and critically injured by police on Monday was formally arrested.Hong Kong Chief Executive Lam has given two press conferences in fewer than 24 hours in which she has urged an end to the disruptions and intimated that protesters will not achieve their goals through violence.District elections are still scheduled to take place on Nov. 24 in what would be the first major democratic exercise held in the city since protests began.

Here’s the latest:

Clashes at Chinese University (11:45 p.m.)

Protests and clashes continue at multiple locations across the city including Mong Kok, Tai Po, Kowloon Tong and Tseung Kwan O. Riot police repeatedly fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators.

The situation at Chinese University of Hong Kong “continues to intensify,” according to an update from the city’s police issued at 11:27 p.m. As officers were “retreating, rioters threw bricks, petrol bombs, launched arrows and even fired a signal flare” at them, according to the update.

Given that the violence had reached a “deadly level” and emergency services were being hampered, police deployed a so-called Specialised Crowd Management Vehicle to “facilitate retreat.”

“Police warn all rioters to stop all illegal and violent acts, and to leave immediately.”

Clashes at the university appeared to subsequently abate.

Police Fire Blue Dye at Students (10:29 p.m.)

Police fired streams of blue dye at students congregated in the area of a bridge at Chinese University of Hong Kong, after hours of confrontations, including multiple rounds of tear gas. Students set up barricades to stop riot police from charging. A number of students were injured, including one who was suspected to have been knocked unconscious after a head injury, according to Radio Television Hong Kong.

Disruptions planned for Wednesday (8:09 p.m.)

Protesters called for disruptions to MTR train services starting at 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday, as the city’s busy rush hour kicks off, with people planning to board trains until at least 10:30 a.m.

The calls came as clashes again escalated on the Chinese University of Hong Kong campus, with police firing tear gas and protesters and students throwing petrol bombs.

Stocks eke out gains (5:33 p.m.)

Hong Kong stocks rose following Monday’s $118 billion slide, despite continued unrest in the financial district. The Hang Seng Index closed up 0.5% after falling 2.6% on Monday. Citic Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. led gains. Local developers and landlords slipped after starting the session higher. The Hong Kong dollar was little changed. Monday’s tumble came after a rally in the city’s shares that had added $530 billion amid a liquidity-fueled surge in global equities.

Lam’s popularity rating drops (5:11 p.m.)

City leader Lam saw her popularity rating fall to just 19.5 out of 100 points, a record low across all previous Chief Executives, according to the latest survey released by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Program. That rating was down from 20.2 in a similar survey from late October, as her popularity continues to slide over months of protest.

The percentage of respondents expressing confidence in Lam was unchanged, at 11%, among the 1,016 respondents polled between Nov. 1 and 8.

Police detail use of force (4:37 p.m.)

During the chaotic confrontations on Monday, police said they fired 255 tear gas canisters, 204 rubber bullets, 45 bean bag rounds and 96 sponge grenades.

Police seek help to identify man (4:25 p.m.)

Police are seeking help from the public to identify the person involved in the shocking incident on Monday in which a man was splashed with flammable liquid and set on fire, saying it amounted to attempted murder, Hong Kong senior superintendent Kong Wing-cheung told reporters. The attack happened after the man argued with protesters in a video that quickly went viral. “Over the past two days, our society has been pushed to the brink of a total breakdown,” Kong said.

Protesters used bows and arrows: Police (4 p.m.)

In a briefing, Hong Kong senior superintendent Kong Wing-cheung condemned protesters for brandishing bows and arrows on a university campus, and for hurling heavy objects from bridges above city roads. He said protesters could have inadvertently killed somebody, and played several videos of protester actions at the briefing that he said were dangerous. Of the 287 people arrested yesterday, 190 were students, he said.

Police fire tear gas in Central (3:30 p.m.)

Hong Kong police fired tear gas in the city’s financial district shortly before 4 p.m. for the second day in a row, sending protesters and bystanders running for cover. Some roads remained blocked and riot cops had cornered a group of around a dozen protesters outside the Landmark shopping mall.

Police arrest student who was shot (2:15 p.m.)

The 21-year-old student shot by a police officer on Monday has been arrested for unlawful assembly, according to a police official who asked not to be identified. The Monday morning shooting during city-wide protests shocked the city, setting off a surge of demonstrations that turned into one of Hong Kong’s most chaotic days yet.

Protesters block roads (1:30 p.m.)

Protesters occupied the city’s Central financial district, laying down roadblocks and unfurling a wall of umbrellas to shield themselves from police while others spray-painted political slogans. They were joined by hundreds of white collar office workers.

Some demonstrators laid down contraptions with nails sticking out of them that seemed designed to tear into the tires of vehicles, while others shook marbles out onto the road. Riot cops amassed in large groups nearby.

China urges punishment (1:25 p.m.)

The behavior of “black-clad rioters” is no different from terrorism, according to a statement from the office of the commissioner of China’s foreign ministry in Hong Kong. By denouncing the Hong Kong police, politicians in the U.S. and U.K. have shown their attempt to collude with “illegal rioters,” the statement said, without naming anyone in particular. The statement said violence must stop and crimes committed by protesters need to be punished, reiterating previous remarks from the office.

Protesters gather in Central (12:15 p.m.)

Demonstrators blocked roads in the city’s Central business district at lunch time after calls for a “flash mob” protest circulated on social media. Hundreds of protesters, some shielding themselves from police with face masks and unfurled umbrellas, gathered outside some of the city’s luxury retail outlets. Some protesters tried to start a fire in the street outside an Armani store, but it was quickly extinguished by firefighters.

Mong Kok station closed (10:15 a.m.)

Transit hub Mong Kok Station is closed and trains will not stop there, operator MTR Corp. says, citing a sudden situation at the station.

Lam says she wants to hold elections (10:13 a.m.)

Lam sought to allay fears the city would cancel or delay district council elections Nov. 24 due to the increasing violence.

“To this day, we still hope we can hold the election and try our very best to do so because it is an important election with the rights of 4 million voters to respect and safeguard,” Lam said. “But there’s an issue of safety and order, so we have to work hard to satisfy these two requirements.”

The vote, a rare bastion of democracy under Beijing’s rule, has emerged as a test of the city’s commitment to democracy, and some observers think this round of protests will boost the opposition’s chances for many of the 450-odd seats up for grabs. District councilors have little political power, but they help choose electors that select the city’s top leader -- and this election is expected to set the tone for a more consequential vote for seats on the local legislature next year.

Lam condemns traffic disruption (10:03 a.m.)

In a regular weekly briefing on Tuesday morning, Lam called the disruption of traffic a selfish act and praised residents who volunteered to clear roadblocks set up by protesters. She said she respected everyone who went to work despite the difficult conditions, and said schools should advise students to stay away from violence and protests.

Update on injuries (9:45 a.m.)

Some 128 people have been injured and admitted to the hospital from recent clashes as of 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Hospital Authority said. Two remain in critical condition.

U.S. calls for dialogue (8:54 a.m.)

The U.S. is watching the Hong Kong situation with “grave concern” and called on both the government and protesters to participate in dialogue, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. It condemned violence “on all sides.”

More train services disrupted (8:48 a.m.)

Service on four major subway lines that bring commuters into Hong Kong Island from Kowloon and the New Territories had either been suspended or delayed, MTR Corp. said on its website.

Train passengers have been escorted onto the tracks after obstacles were found on the tracks near Sha Tin station on the East Rail Line, Cable TV reported, citing a passenger on the train.

Some schools closed (8:08 a.m.)

The English Schools Foundation suspended all classes on Tuesday. Many major universities were also closed.

Tear gas fired (7:56 a.m.)

Police fired tear gas in Kowloon Tong at protesters who threw objects at them.

Rail service partially suspended (6:02 a.m.)

Rail operator MTR Corp. said train service between several stations on the East Rail Line in the New Territories has been suspended “due to an escalation of the situation.” Other lines were operating with delays.

Airport warns of disruption (2:00 a.m.)

The Airport Authority Hong Kong warned passengers of traffic disruption on Tuesday morning and asked them to arrive early for flights.

--With assistance from Fion Li.

To contact the reporters on this story: Dominic Lau in Hong Kong at dlau92@bloomberg.net;Natalie Lung in Hong Kong at flung6@bloomberg.net;Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at dtenkate@bloomberg.net, Karen Leigh

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