Police shot tear gas volleys at protesters and key downtown subway stations were closed as simultaneous rallies raged across Hong Kong hours after Beijing held celebrations marking 70 years of Communist rule in China.
President Xi Jinping oversaw a military parade through the center of the capital that featured some of China’s most advanced weaponry, including ballistic missiles and warplanes. He kicked it off with a brief speech calling for stability in the Asian financial center and urging for unity among Chinese ethnic groups and and the country’s “complete unification.”’
Protests have rocked Hong Kong for almost four months, pushing back against China’s tightening grip over the city.
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.
MTR stations closed across city. 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.
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.
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.
#HongKongProtester throws eggs at a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping on China’s 70th National Day #香港 pic.twitter.com/iKt91a0bIY
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.
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.
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).
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’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.
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 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 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.”
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.
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 “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.
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.
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.
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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