Police in Hong Kong used tear gas and water cannon against demonstrators during protests on the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.
In one incident, a police officer shot an 18-year-old protestor in the chest, leaving him bleeding. A police spokesperson said the officer feared for his life. She said the person was taken to a hospital for treatment. She provided no other information.
Officers have fired warning shots in the air before, but this is the first report that a protestor has been shot. A video of the incident appeared on CNN news broadcasts.
Hong Kong’s hospital authority said 51 people were injured in all, two in critical condition.
Demonstration widespread in Hong Kong
A police statement said, “There are rioting acts across Kowloon, Hong Kong and the New Territories.”
Police used tear gas in at least six places in the city. They also used water cannon in the business district where protesters appeared in large numbers.
The protestors, many wearing gas masks and holding sticks, burned signs and tires that poured smoke into the air. Organizers said at least 100,000 people marched although the government had banned demonstrations during the holiday.
The protests have continued for almost four months. The uprising is the biggest political crisis Hong Kong has faced since 1997 when it returned to Chinese control.
One marcher, a 42-year-old woman who identified herself as Li, said, “I’m not young, but if we don’t march now, we’ll never have the chance to speak again, it’s as simple as that.”
Protestors threw fuel bombs, known as Molotov cocktails, outside the central government offices in the Admiralty area of Hong Kong island on Tuesday. Officials asked people to leave the Legislative Council building nearby for safety reasons.
Clashes also took place in the New Territories area that borders mainland China. Police said rioters there used a harmful fluid that injured “multiple police officers and reporters.”
Rioters threw Molotov cocktails at Chinese banks and Chinese-supported businesses and painted anti-China messages on buildings. Local broadcaster RTHK said it was withdrawing its reporters from areas of violence after one was hit on the head.
China’s National Day
The protestors had promised to use China’s National Day to propel their calls for greater democracy. October 1 marks the 70th year since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
Hundreds of officials observed National Day celebrations at the city’s Convention and Exhibition Centre where security was tight.
Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung told those attending that Hong Kong had done well with China’s support under the “one country, two systems” policy. That describes the guarantees of political freedoms that Hong Kong received when Britain gave the territory back to mainland China. However, Cheung warned that increasing violence was hurting social order and the economy.
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam traveled to Beijing for the anniversary celebration there. China’s ruling Communist Party marked 70 years in power with a huge military parade and performances. Trucks carried China’s newest nuclear missiles and fighter jets flew over Tiananmen Square. President Xi Jinping and other leaders watched the events designed to demonstrate China’s increasing power and influence in the world.
I’m Mario Ritter Jr.
Mario Ritter Jr. adapted this story for VOA Learning English from AP and Reuters reports. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
propel –v. to push or drive something in some direction
gas mask –n. a device worn over the mouth and nose to protect the respiratory tract by filtering out against dangerous substances (such as dusts or fumes) from inhaled air
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