Hong Kong / Clashes between protesters and police erupted again on Wednesday with more tear gas, blocked streets, barricades in universities and chaos in the city where the situation has escalated after a strike two days ago in which 128 people were injured, two of them seriously.
Hong Kong’s metro operator MTR was forced to partially or fully close several lines in the morning due to sabotage by protesters while the Transport Department said 108 bus routes had been affected due to “large-scale road blockages and damage to road facilities to varying degrees”.
Local media reports said around 250 bank branches closed on Wednesday after a group of protesters smashed the glass facade of a branch of the Bank of Communications, located on Pedder Street in Central District.
The tension even reached the Legislative Council – the city parliament – where a session was suspended after the House Speaker expelled a prominent opposition lawmaker. Pro-democracy legislators surrounded Secretary for Security John Lee and shouted that he had bloodstained hands.
Universities become a battleground
The clashes were particularly violent on the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where many students continued their protests a day after 70 of them were injured.
Some students have set up tents at the university’s entrance while others were preparing the Molotov cocktail in the sports fields in the face of possible police intervention, according to the local media reports.
The gravity of the situation at the university is reflected in the evacuation of more than 80 students from mainland China, who were transferred by the police in two boats before being taken to Shenzhen, a neighboring city on the other side of the border, where several organizations have already offered them accommodation and assistance.
The local spokesperson of an association for Chinese returning to the country from overseas said that more than 150 students had contacted him to consult him on the possibility of leaving the former British colony.
Some universities such as the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology are running free bus services so that students wanting to cross the border can do so.
And the situation shows no sign of improving in the short term as evidenced by the education authorities’ decision to suspend all classes in kindergartens and primary and secondary schools on Thursday.
In a repeat of what’s been happening on other days of the week, some universities announced on Wednesday that they were canceling classes while the Hong Kong Polytechnic University went a step further and announced that it would remain closed for the rest of the week to ensure the safety of its students and staff.
Beijing calls for the firm hand against “enemy of the people”
China reiterated its support for the Hong Kong authorities to act against protesters.
“We firmly support the HKSAR government, the police, and judicial organs to conduct more powerful, decisive and effective actions to punish illegal criminal activities, to stop violence and chaos and restore public order,” Yang Guang, spokesperson of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said in a statement.
“Violence shall not be allowed to wreak havoc in Hong Kong and the conspiracies of the anti-China disruptors in Hong Kong shall not succeed,” he said.
In a statement released on Tuesday night, the spokesperson expressed China’s “strong indignation and condemnation” against the setting of a 57-year-old man on fire after he got into an argument with protesters.
During his daily press briefing on Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that rioters in Hong Kong were becoming the “enemy of the people.”
Geng also stressed that the issue facing Hong Kong was not about human rights or democracy but about “ending violence and chaos, restoring order and upholding rule of law.”
The strike on Monday left a total of 128 people injured and 287 arrested, out of which more than 60 percent were students, while Tuesday’s incidents resulted in 142 arrests, the police said.
The Hong Kong protests, which have drawn massive crowds since June following a contentious proposed extradition law, have turned into a movement seeking to improve democracy in the city-state and safeguard the region’s partial autonomy from Beijing.
However, some demonstrators have opted for more radical tactics than peaceful civil disobedience and violent clashes with the police have been frequent. (November 13, 2019, EFE/Practica Español)
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