HONG KONG PROTEST MONITOR 27 December 2019

27 December 2019

THE SITUATION NOW

Violent clashes between protesters and police occurred in and around numerous shopping malls and business districts over the weekend and Christmas holidays. As forecast, the police presence was significant with officers usually responding quickly and with increasing levels of force against what they identified as disruptive actions. While attacks against targeted properties resumed, protesters employed a new tactic to disrupt ‘blue’ shops, which are those they perceive as having links with China or whose owners oppose the protest movement, by intimidating customers - notably those from mainland China - or disrupting operations.

The unrest started on the afternoon of Saturday 21 December at Harbour City, in Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui district, when anti-government demonstrators sought to force shops to close and intimidate customers. Scuffles between protesters and plainclothes officers resulted in uniformed police using pepper spray against activists and, according to widely distributed imagery, others. Another confrontation occurred at Yoho Mall in the New Territories town of Yuen Long during the same afternoon after hundreds of people gathered to mark the five-month anniversary of an attack on passengers at the local Mass Transit Rail (MTR) station by suspected members of organised criminal groups (‘triads’), seemingly with the support of some police officers. Protesters attacked a Genki Sushi restaurant and sprayed graffiti on the storefront of an outlet of Heytea, a Chinese beverage firm. After police arrived to disperse the crowd some activists travelled to the nearby Castle Peak Road where they smashed traffic lights.

On Sunday 22 December, hundreds of protesters gathered in Edinburgh Place, Central, on Hong Kong island for a rally in support for China’s Muslim Uighur community. The initially peaceful rally became confrontational between protesters and police after China’s national flag was illegally taken down. The police intervened and used batons against protesters, who threw water bottles and other objects at them. Other officers then used pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

Police use pepper spray, batons and make arrests at a rally in Edinburgh Place, Central. 22 December 2019

During the evening of Monday 23 December more than a thousand people staged a rally in Edinburgh Place, Central, to support Spark Alliance HK, a fund created in 2014 to financially support those detained during protests. Police accused Alliance of money laundering and ordered their accounts to be frozen. HSBC, the territory’s main financial institution that managed the account, complied and as a result became a target for the protest movement. Participants at the rally also called on the US to impose sanctions against pro-Beijing business entities they perceive to have violated human rights and transferred money overseas illegally. 

On Christmas Eve, 24 December, protests in multiple shopping malls and tourist districts became violent with clashes between protesters and police at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin and Yoho Mall in Yuen Long. Confrontations at Mong Kok’s Langham Place spread through Kowloon into the night as activists blocked sections of Portland Street and Argyle Street, damaged a HSBC branch on Nathan Road, and started a fire at Mong Kok MTR station. Police used pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets to suppress the protesters. They had a water cannon on reserve that they did not use. Imagery showed a man jumping from the second floor of the Yoho Mall while trying to escape from the police; he suffered non-life threating injuries.

On the same night, confrontations between the police and activists in Harbour City led to street level clashes throughout Tsim Sha Tsui district. Police fired several volleys of tear gas canisters and used pepper spray at protesters, who had blocked roads, smashed traffic lights and threw petrol bombs at the Tsim Sha Tsui police station.  


Plainclothes police, protesters clash in Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui. 24 December 2019

Further protests involving fewer activists continued on Christmas Day, 25 December, with police using pepper spray at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin, Telford Plaza in Kowloon and Metro Plaza in Kwai Fong, against black-clad protesters who attempted to disrupt business operation at those locations. The most intense violence again occurred in Mong Kok, where police used pepper spray against activists in Langham Place. During the confrontation, demonstrators placed debris and set fires on Argyle Street, Nathan Road and Shanghai Street. 

Disruption at shopping malls continued on Thursday 26 December, Boxing Day, with clashes between protesters and police breaking out in Mega Mall in Tai Po, V City in Tuen Mun and Langham Place in Mong Kok. Police used pepper spray and made numerous arrests. Demonstrators also gathered at Moko, Mong Kok, SOGO, Causeway Bay and Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, but no violence was reported. Around midnight, a group of protesters rallied at Sai Yeung Choi Street South and Fire Street in Mong Kok. Police made 43 arrests.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

A number of rallies are scheduled in the coming week, with some likely to be well attended and expected to result in violent confrontations between radicals and the police. We continue to expect further protests into the new year as we assess there to be little to no likelihood that the Hong Kong and Beijing governments acceding to the activists’ demands regarding universal suffrage, investigations in the conduct of the local police, and amnesties for arrested protesters, among others.

On Sunday 29 December, a rally is scheduled to start at 1400 at Edinburgh Place, Central. The rally is likely to begin peacefully but could escalate to violent clashes later in the afternoon and early evening. A large police presence is almost certain, with officers expected to quickly use force in the event of any unrest.

On Monday 30 December, a sit-in is scheduled at Revenue Tower, Wan Chai, during lunchtime. A further gathering is scheduled to begin at 1700 at Tamar Park, Central, in a show of support for injured and detained protesters. While the rallies are intended to be peaceful there remains the possibility of violence if activists choose to confront the police, notably after dark.

On Tuesday 31 December, a rally is scheduled at Prince Edward MTR station in Mong Kok to mark the four-month anniversary of the 31 August clashes in which police allegedly attacked passengers indiscriminately at the station. Prince Edward MTR station has been a frequent flashpoint for violence since the 31 August incident and we advise against travel to or through the station, which may be closed early in the afternoon to avoid damage. Online activity indicates that protesters plan to form human chains along MTR lines across 18 districts in Hong Kong from 1900 on the same day. We warn many MTR services can be expected to be disrupted due to damage to station facilities.

Wednesday 1 January 2020 is a public holiday and the ‘New Year’s Eve Rally’ organised by the pro-democracy Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) is due to march from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to Chater Road, starting at 1400. The CHRF has organised most of the largest marches in Hong Kong. While it is still waiting for police authorisation, we expect the rally to attract a significant number of people. Past experience indicates that while the march will be generally peaceful, there is strong potential for violence in Central, Wan Chai and Admiralty during the late afternoon and evening. The area should be avoided where at all possible as traffic disruptions and unrest are probable.

 

UPCOMING PROTESTS

Saturday 28 December

The ‘Medical Sector Street Booth’ is scheduled at the Princess Margaret Hospital, Kwai Chung, New Territories, from 1200 to 1400.

The ‘Accounting Industry Street Booth’ is scheduled at the Asia World-Expo, Chek Lap Kok (Hong Kong International Airport), New Territories, from 1300 to 1400 and 1730 to 1815.

The ‘lunchtime protest’ rally is scheduled at Landmark North, Sheung Shui, New Territories, from 1500.

The ‘Secondary school students rally’ is scheduled at Ginza, Tin Shui Wai, New Territories, from 1930 to 2130.

Sunday 29 December

The ‘Days and Nights of Hong Kong Protesters’ Assembly is scheduled at Edinburgh Place, Central, from 1400 to 1900.

Monday 30 December

The ‘Non-cooperation movement’ sit-in is scheduled at Revenue Tower, Wan Chai, from 1200.

The ‘Grief of Us’ rally is scheduled at Tamar Park, Central, from 1700 to 2030. Letter of No Objection pending.

Tuesday 31 December

The ‘Four Month since Prince Edward Station Terror Attack’ is planned at Prince Edward MTR Station, Kowloon, from 2000.

Protesters plan to form human chains from 1900 at 18 districts in Hong Kong. Details remain unconfirmed.

Wednesday 1 January 2020

The ‘CHRF New Year’s Eve Rally’ is scheduled from Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, to Chater Road, Central, from 1400. Letter of No Objection pending.


PROTEST CHRONOLOGY 21 - 26 DECEMBER

Saturday 21 December

1430 – 2000: Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui. Protesters seeking to disrupt Christmas shopping clashed with police, who responded with pepper spray and made at least two arrests.

1500 – 2000: Yoho Mall, Yuen Long, New Territories. Hundreds of protesters rallied to commemorate the five-month anniversary of the Yuen Long MTR station attack. An outlet of Heytea was sprayed with graffiti. A Genki Sushi restaurant was damaged and dozens of people injured in the unrest in which police used pepper spray. 

2030: Heng Fa Chuen MTR station, Hong Kong Island. A few protesters staged a peaceful sit-in rally.

Sunday 22 December

1500:  Edinburgh Place, Central. Protesters rallied to show solidarity with Uighurs. The demonstration became violent at around 1700.

Monday 23 December

1215:  Revenue Tower, Wan Chai. Protesters staged a sit-in and entered the basement lobby. No violence reported.

1330:  IFC, Central. Protesters staged ‘lunch with you’ rally. No violence reported.

1900:  Edinburgh Place, Central. Over a thousand protesters rallied to support Spark Alliance HK, a fund that supports the protesters. No violence reported.  

1930:  Chater Garden, Central. Dozens of musicians staged a strike. No violence reported.

Tuesday 24 December

1330:  Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon and Metro Plaza, Kwai Fong, New Territories. Protesters staged lunchtime rally. No violence reported.

1930:  Langham Place, Mong Kok. The ‘Christmas Eve rally’ resulted in violent clashes with police using pepper spray.

2000:  Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui. Protesters and police confrontation ended in a stand-off and minor unrest.

  • New Tow Plaza, Sha Tin. Over 200 participants rallied and confronted the police. Yoho Mall, Yuen Long. Police and protesters ended in clashes.

2100:  Tsim Sha Tsui region. (Carnarvon Road, Kimberly Road, Nathan Road, Salisbury Road). Thousands gathered for the ‘Christmas Eve Rally’. Radicals blocked roads with debris, smashed traffic lights and threw petrol bombs at the Tsim Sha Tsui police station. Police responded with tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and deployed a water cannon.

2300: Mong Kok region. (Portland Street, Argyle Street, Nathan Road). Protesters blocked roads, damaged a HSBC branch on Nathan Road and started a fire at Mong Kok MTR station. Police fired pepper spray and tear gas.

Wednesday 25 December

‘Suck the Christmas’ rally occurred at the following places:

1400:  Jardine’s Bazaar, Causeway Bay. No violence reported.

1430:  Sai Yeung Choi Street and Shantung Street junction, Mong Kok. Protesters and police involved in minor skirmishes.

1600:  Langham Place, Mong Kok. Police used pepper spray and made several arrests.

  • New Town Plaza, Sha Tin. Protesters disrupted operations at a restaurant. Riot police used pepper spray and made arrests. 
  • Times Square, Causeway Bay. No violence reported. 

1900:  Telford Plaza, Kowloon Bay. Protesters in verbal confrontation with police, who used pepper spray and made at least 10 arrests.

2015:  Metro Plaza, Kwai Fong. Police used batons and made at least seven arrests.

2200:  Mong Kok. (Argyle Street, Nathan Road, Fire Street, Shanghai Street, Sai Yeung Choi Street South). Radicals blocked roads with debris and set fires. Police fired tear gas, pepper balls and made arrests.

Thursday 26 December

‘Suck the Christmas’ rally occurred at the following places:

1320:  Mega Mall, Tai Po, New Territories. Police used pepper spray and made arrests.

1500:  Moko, Mong Kok. Protesters threw objects but caused no injuries.

1530:  SOGO, Causeway Bay. Protesters disrupted and damaged several escalators. No violence reported.

1700:  Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui. No violence reported.

1730:  V City, Tuen Mun. Police used pepper spray and made at least four arrests.

1900:  Langham Place, Mong Kok. A Starbucks café was damaged. Police made at least one arrest.

2300:  Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Fire Street, Mong Kok. Protesters rallied. Police made 43 arrests.



END REPORT