Friday 6 December 2019

Hong Kong police threatening to use live bullets after officer hit by protester's arrow

Danger: A protester’s umbrella catches fire as Molotov cocktails are thrown during clashes with police outside Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Photo: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
Danger: A protester’s umbrella catches fire as Molotov cocktails are thrown during clashes with police outside Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Photo: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Simon Gardner

Hong Kong police have threatened to use live bullets against rioters if they use lethal weapons.

The warning came after one officer was treated in hospital after being hit in the leg by an arrow and another was struck on the visor by a metal ball during fresh clashes outside a university in the centre of the city.

Protesters hunkered down behind makeshift shields and hurled petrol bombs at police in a stand-off, blocking a vital tunnel link.

The violence, which has convulsed the Asian financial hub, has posed the gravest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

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Mr Xi has said he is confident Hong Kong's government can resolve the crisis.

In a statement last night, police warned demonstrators to stop acts of violence, saying that officers would respond with force and possibly live bullets if necessary.

A protester uses a bow near the university. Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters
A protester uses a bow near the university. Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Demonstrators, angry at what they see as Chinese meddling in rights guaranteed to the former British colony, have said they are responding to excessive police force.

"The protesters have been reacting to the police," said Joris (23), a civil engineer. "We haven't fought back as much as we could. I would be prepared for jail. We are fighting for Hong Kong."

On the major road link next to Hong Kong Polytechnic University, police vehicles with water cannon advanced on barricades set up by protesters but pulled back when petrol bombs were thrown.

Chinese soldiers in a base close to the university were seen monitoring developments with binoculars.

Chinese troops in shorts and T-shirts, some carrying red plastic buckets or brooms, had emerged from their barracks on Saturday in a rare public appearance to help clean up debris.

The presence of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers on the streets, even to clean up, risks stoking controversy about Hong Kong's status as an autonomous area.

Protesters say that the ruling Communist Party is threatening freedoms guaranteed when Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Irish Independent

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