Tuesday 22 October 2019

Teenage protester shot by police as Hong Kong erupts on China's big day

Caught on camera: A screengrab from a video released by Campus TV, HKUSU shows a policeman firing his weapon and shooting a protester in Hong Kong. Photo: Getty
Caught on camera: A screengrab from a video released by Campus TV, HKUSU shows a policeman firing his weapon and shooting a protester in Hong Kong. Photo: Getty

Sophia Yan and Katy Wong

Hong Kong police shot a teenage pro-democracy protester yesterday - the first use of live fire in four months of demonstrations - as skirmishes overshadowed celebrations marking 70 years of Communist Party rule in China.

Video showed the 18-year-old protester wielding a rod at a police officer before he was shot at close range in the chest.

Protesters wielding bars and molotov cocktails fight with police in in the Sha Tin district of Hong Kong. Photo: Isaac Lawrence
Protesters wielding bars and molotov cocktails fight with police in in the Sha Tin district of Hong Kong. Photo: Isaac Lawrence

A preliminary medical report found the bullet had stopped in the man's lung, and did not penetrate his heart, though the teenager is understood to be in critical condition.

The source said two officers were "outnumbered" by the protesters and pulled their s because they felt their lives were in danger.

The student who was shot has also been arrested for assaulting an officer. "Our national day is supposed to be a day to celebrate and be happy, but unfortunately some rioters choose to do all sorts of criminal damage," said Stephen Lo Wai-chung, Hong Kong police commissioner.

The incident marks a significant escalation in demonstrations, which have so far only seen s fired as warning shots. It was the first such injury from a live round after four months of unrest.

Protesters want a citywide strike today in solidarity with the man who was shot.

The unrest marred Beijing's carefully choreographed birthday, meant to underscore its ambitions to replace the US as the dominant power in the Asia Pacific region.

READ MORE: No force can rattle our nation, declares Xi as China shows off its military might

Calls of rage rang out through Hong Kong as activists took to the streets, pitching battles against police.

A protester is arrested by police
A protester is arrested by police

A fireworks show - originally meant to light up Hong Kong's harbour front for the party's 70th anniversary - was cancelled as police fired tear gas and bullets to clear protesters.

Demonstrators shouted "free Hong Kong!", running as they flung petrol bombs in succession and set fire to barricades and subway entrances, with police deploying water cannon and charging in uniformed ranks.

"It's National Day, but I don't think there is anything worth celebrating," said Mr Leung (66), a protester.

Sara Lai (35), an office clerk, added: "[President] Xi Jinping just doesn't know what he is doing; he is not capable of governance over Hong Kong."

Protesters wielding bars and molotov cocktails fight with police in in the Sha Tin district of Hong Kong. Photo: Isaac Lawrence
Protesters wielding bars and molotov cocktails fight with police in in the Sha Tin district of Hong Kong. Photo: Isaac Lawrence

Public walls plastered with protest art - "Chinazi," "Revolution of our times and "Hong Kong is NOT China" - were torn down by counter-protesters or papered over with images of Chinese flags.

Dozens of subway stations were shut down, affecting thousands of residents, many off work for the public holiday. Some found themselves accidentally caught in the middle of clashes, scampering into back alleys as Molotov cocktails exploded nearby. Others covered their faces to protect against themselves thick clouds of tear gas smoke.

Activists have grown increasingly angry at city leaders who they say have failed to listen to the people. Mass demonstrations kicked off in early summer over an extradition proposal that would have sent suspects to face trial in mainland China, where Communist Party control of the courts leads to a 99.9pc conviction rate.

Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong chief executive, finally pledged last month to withdraw the bill, but many protesters said it was too little, too late.

Ms Lam presided last week over the first of a series of gatherings, where protesters reiterated again that they would not consider returning home for good unless all demands were met.

Demonstrators have called for Ms Lam's resignation, an independent inquiry into police handling of the protests, direct leadership elections, and a retraction of protesters labelled as rioters, a charge with a 10-year prison sentence in Hong Kong.

Police have in recent days more routinely calling protesters rioters - a move that further upset activists.

Rights groups, including Amnesty International, are pressing for an investigation into police brutality.

With violence barrelling into a fifth month with no end in sight, concerns are growing Mr Xi might use a more heavy-handed approach and deploy troops showcased in the parade to restore order. He has made clear Hong Kong will remain a part of China, governed and controlled by the Communist Party.

Protesters recognise the broader problem of eroding freedoms is not going away.

"I am worried about the future of Hong Kong, but these protests show Hong Kong people are united and that the international community cares about us," said Ms Lai. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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