HONG KONG PROTEST MONITOR 10 January 2020
THE SITUATION NOW
Hong Kong had a generally calm week following a large-scale march and renewed clashes in and around business districts over the New Year holiday period. The only serious unrest over that period occurred last weekend and was confined to Sheung Shui, a town in the New Territories close to the border with mainland China, where police used batons and pepper spray against protesters on Sunday 5 January.
Riot police presented during Sheung Shui march, 5 Jan 2020
The unrest was triggered mainly by local animosity towards so-called ‘parallel traders’ who purchase large quantities of duty-free goods in Hong Kong and resell them on the mainland for profit. Thousands of protesters marched peacefully from Sheung Shui Garden No.1 to Sheung Shui MTR station on Sunday afternoon, but tensions flared outside Metropolis Plaza and Sheung Shui Centre at around 1600. Police used pepper spray and arrested nearly 50 people they accused of deviating from the approved protest route, threatening members of the public and setting up barricades, charges the participants denied.
In another incident after the march began some individuals reportedly threw petrol bombs at Sheung Shui Police Station in Fanling, damaging a police car. Police fired tear gas in response.
In the early hours of Monday 6 January, two petrol bombs were thrown into the Spicegirl restaurant in Sham Shui Po, Kowloon. The restaurant owner had been accused of offering shelter to individuals who had reportedly attacked pro-democracy activists last month in nearby Mong Kok. Police investigations continue to establish whether the incident was related to the protest movement or some other factors.
On Monday lunchtime around 200 protesters took to the streets in Causeway Bay, Wan Chai on Hong Kong island and Kwun Tong, Kowloon, to demonstrate against alleged police brutality during Sunday’s Sheung Shui unrest. Dozens of people also staged a sit-in at Kowloon Commerce Centre in Kwai Chung. No violence was reported during either rally.
Minor skirmishes occurred near the Muk Shue Estate bus station in Tsuen Wan, New Territories, in the early hours of Wednesday 8 January. Around 40 people, some reportedly speaking Mandarin, gathered to clean the local Lennon Wall. A verbal confrontation and scuffles with some residents ensued. The police later intervened but made no arrests.
On Wednesday evening a large number of people attended a memorial in Tseung Kwan O, New Territories, to mark the two-month anniversary of the death of Chow Tsz-lok who died following clashes between protesters and police on 4 November. Chow, a second-year student from the University of Science and Technology, reportedly fell from the third floor of an estate car park while trying to escape either the police or tear gas. He suffered serious injuries and died on 8 November. Chow’s death triggered an escalation in violence during mid-November that contributed to protesters occupying Hong Kong’s main universities.
After the memorial gathering some activists blocked roads with debris around Sheung Tak Plaza. The police officers responded with pepper spray and made several arrests.
On Saturday 4 January, Beijing announced the appointment of its new envoy to Hong Kong, Luo Huining. He is a party official with extensive experience in dealing with some of China’s more complex and turbulent regions, replaced Wang Zhimin as the new director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong. Luo expressed hope that Hong Kong would ‘return to the right path,’ viewed by many to contain a veiled threat that failure to do so would have severe consequences for the territory. On Tuesday 7 January, Hong Kong’ chief executive Carrie Lam said her government would work closely with Luo to restore order.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The pause in unrest is expected to continue through the coming week with no significant large-scale rallies scheduled or any significant social media ‘chatter’ pointing towards more violent action. One concern is that activists have called for the renewal of Lennon Walls gatherings throughout the territory on Saturday 11 January as a mark of appreciation for those who have been engaged in pro-democracy protests during the past six months (see below for detailed locations). We warn this action may result in confrontations with pro-Beijing and pro-government groups.
Also on Saturday, a group of ‘older residents’ plan to rally at Sha Tin’s New Town Plaza, New Territories, to show support for so-called ‘yellow shops’, or businesses perceived as supporting the protest movement. This action risks unrest as young and more radical activists may seek to disrupt ‘blue shops’ considered pro-Beijing or opposed to the protest movement.
While the protest movement has been largely peaceful, groups of activists self-identifying as ‘the valiant’ or ‘braves’, seek to confront the police and employ extreme tactics during protests. According to local media, since 7 January some ‘valiant’ groups have decided to end their actions due to increased police pressure and internal divisions and disagreements. This can be viewed as an important change within the more extreme factions linked to the protest movement. As a result, we assess that the level and intensity of violence and associated threat to property and infrastructure may drop significantly.
The Lunar New year begins on 25 January, a holiday traditionally associated with family-orientated gatherings and festivities. We assess that the coming two weeks ahead of the start of the holiday are likely to be quiet as any disruptive protests during this period would be viewed by mainstream and more radical activists opponents of the local administration’s policies as harming their evident widespread public support.
Friday 10 January
Lunchtime rallies are scheduled at the following places from 1300
Hong Kong Industrial Centre car park, Lai Chi Kok, New Kowloon
McDonald’s on Tai Yau Street, San Po Kong, New Kowloon
Saturday 11 January
Protesters plan to renew Lennon Walls at the following locations:
From 1400 to 1700: Admiralty, Hong Kong Island
From 1900 to 2200:
Hong Kong Island
- Admiralty, Causeway Bay, Fortress Hill, Sai Wan Ho
- Tsim Sha Tsui East, Mong Kok, Cheung Sha Wan, Wong Tai Sin
- Yuen Long, Tsing Yi, Tsuen Wan, Tai Po, Kwai Fong, Sha Tin, Ma On Shan, Tseung Kwan O
Older residents are scheduled to hold a rally at New Town Plaza, Sha Tin, New Territories to support businesses that support the protest movement, from 1500 to 1700.
Sunday 12 January
Protest scheduled at Edinburgh Place, Central, from 1500 to 1700, to appeal for participants to join a march scheduled on 19 January.
PROTEST CHRONOLOGY 05 JANUARY 2020 – 08 JANUARY 2020
Sunday 05 January
1400 – 1600: Sheung Shui. Thousands of people marched from Sheung Shui Garden No. 1 to Sheung Shui MTR station to protest against what they viewed as the disruption caused by mainland Chinese shoppers and so-called ‘parallel traders’ in their community. Some protesters reportedly threw petrol bombs at the Sheung Shui police station in Fanling. Police used pepper spray, fired tear gas and made at least 40 arrests around Metropolis Plaza and Sheung Shui Centre.
Monday 06 January
Lunchtime rallies occurred at Wan Chai and Causeway Bay on Hong Kong island and Kowloon Commerce Centre in New Territories from 1300.
Tuesday 07 January
Lunchtime rally occurred at IFC, Central, from 1300 to 1400.
A ‘Sing with You’ rally occurred at Zero Carbon Building, Kowloon Bay, from 1300.
Wednesday 08 January
0030: Muk Shue Estate, Tsuen Wan. Around 50 people gathered to clean the local Lennon Wall. A confrontation occurred between participants and local residents.
2200: Intersection of Tong Ming Street and Tong Chun Street, Tseung Kwan O. Memorial to mark the two-month anniversary of the death of Alex Chow end in unrest. Some activists reportedly blocked roads with debris and engaged in verbal confrontation with police, who responded with pepper spray.