HONG KONG PROTEST MONITOR 8 November 2019

8 November 2019

THE SITUATION NOW

The past week was notable for the intensification of violence by some pro-democracy activists against individuals identified as hostile to the protesters’ agenda. Attacks on businesses and other entities perceived as supporting the local and central governments also continued. In response, Beijing issued the clearest indication yet that it intends to increase its direct involvement in the now five-month-long crisis. On 6 November China’s Vice Premier, Han Zheng, urged the territory’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam to impose national security laws in the special administrative region (SAR). While his proposal and its enforcement measures remain unclear, Han’s interjection indicates that Beijing intends to tighten its control over Hong Kong, greatly increasing the prospect of continuing and likely more intense disorder in the territory.

On Saturday 2 November, violent clashes between protesters and police occurred in Hong Kong island’s Causeway Bay and Wan Chai. Similar incidents occurred in Tsim Sha Tsui district in Kowloon. The unrest began in the afternoon in Causeway Bay where a large crowd gathered in nearby Victoria Park, ostensibly to attend election campaign rallies organised by multiple pro-democracy district council candidates. The gathering soon exhibited violence as police fired multiple rounds of tear gas to disperse what they considered to be an unsanctioned public assembly.

Meanwhile, a separate group of protesters marching from Victoria Park to Wan Chai and Central constructed barricades and clashed with police. The police responded with several rounds of tear gas, including some near Wan Chai Fire Station, while a water cannon deployed near the Southorn Playground was used against the demonstrators.

Violence then spread to Central after dark when two authorised rallies, one in Edinburgh Place and the other in Chater Garden, ended abruptly after the police intervened. Activists then occupied Lung Wo Road and Connaught Road Central with makeshift barricades, threw petrol bombs and bricks at the police, who responded with further tear gas.

That evening in Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui district an approved singing rally held on Nathan Road became violent as scuffles broke out between the members of the public and participants. A woman reportedly shouting abuse at the protesters was sprayed in the face with aerosol paint. 


Protesters vandalized the Xinhua News Agency in Wan Chai, 2 November 2019

Throughout the day protesters attacked multiple businesses perceived to be pro-Beijing or hostile to the pro-democracy movement, including a Pacific Coffee store, a Yoshinoya restaurant and Central Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Station. In an incident that is certain to have provoked the central government (and was likely intended to do so), China’s Xinhua News Agency in Wan Chai was attacked and a small fire ignited in its lobby. The incident has intensified the growing debate surrounding the roles of Western and Chinese-backed media in perpetuating the protests. In all, police made at least 200 arrests, including of five people found in possession of 188 petrol bombs, several batons and pepper spray. In separate incidents, a first aider, a firefighter and a fire truck were hit by tear gas canisters. 

On Sunday 3 November, protests against alleged police brutality occurred in multiple districts, including Sha Tin, Tai Po in the New Territories and Taikoo Shing on Hong Kong island. Clashes and attacks on businesses were recorded at Sha Tin Town Hall, New Town Plaza mall and Tai Po Mega Mall, where police used pepper spray and made arrests.


Riot police and protesters clash in CityPlaza in Tai Koo, 3 November 2019

The most serious violence occurred at Taikoo Shing’s CityPlaza shopping mall. An event billed as a peaceful human chain protest intended to highlight opposition to shops and other outlets opposed to the protests or supportive of the central and local governments quickly became violent as police entered the building to end the event. The police appeared to use pepper spray indiscriminately including against members of the public with children, journalists, first-aid volunteers and protesters. 

A man reportedly shouting pro-China slogans in Mandarin slashed several people with a knife and bit off part of the ear of Taikoo West district councilor Andrew Chiu. The assailant was beaten by protesters before the police intervened. The knife attack and conduct of the police in the mall resulted in many local residents from this largely middle-class neighborhood taking to the streets to protest. Some threw a wide range of projectiles at the police, who responded with multiple rounds of tear gas.

Late night clashes in Tseung Kwan O in the New Territories lasted until the early hours of Monday 4 November. Around 100 police fired tear gas near the Sheung Tak Estate to disperse a crowd who had constructed roadblocks on nearby thoroughfares. During the unrest a second-year student Chow Tsz-lok from the University of Science and Technology (HKUST) reportedly fell from the third floor of an estate car park while trying to avoid either the police or tear gas. Chow suffered serious head injuries and died on Friday 8 November. 

On Tuesday 5 November, demonstrations to mark the one-month anniversary of the anti-mask law took place in Centenary Gardens, Tsim Sha Tsui. Some activists blocked sections of Nathan Road until they were dispersed by police using water cannon. That night police fired multiple rounds of tear gas at protesters blocking roads near the Kwong Ming and Sheung Tak estates. The protesters accused the police of pushing Chow from the car park and delaying urgent medical attention, allegations the police deny. 

On Wednesday 6 November, Junius Ho, a controversial pro-Beijing lawmaker, was stabbed and slightly injured near Richland Garden in the New Territories town of Tuen Mun while campaigning for upcoming district council elections. The suspected assailant reportedly accused Ho of ordering the Yuen Long MTR Station attack on 21 July in which suspected members of organised criminal groups (‘triads’) attacked passengers; Junius Ho was subsequently filmed shaking hands with alleged members of this group. Police arrested the suspect, but his identity or any political affiliations have yet to be made public. 

During the evening of Thursday 7 November, a singing rally was held in Sau Mau Ping in the New Territories’ Kwun Tong district. Around 2,100 protesters entered the Sau Mau Ping shopping centre and vandalized branches of Genki Sushi and a Best Mart 360.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

The past week’s incidents, notably the knife attack on a prominent Hong Kong politician and the death of the HKUST student, are likely to intensify animosity between pro-democracy activists and pro-Beijing factions. Following previous deaths, activists have sought to find a ‘martyr’ to help mobilise the maximum number of people to join the protests. A2 Global Risk warns Chow’s death and the police’s evidential, if currently confused, involvement elevates the likelihood of a large spontaneous rally. There is a high probability such an emotionally charged event will lead to multiple confrontations between protesters and the police throughout the territory over the weekend. 

Protesters are currently debating online whether to attempt to hold a major rally on Saturday 9 November to mark the five months since the start of the anti-extradition bill protests. The protesters’ ability to draw large numbers of moderate sympathisers to the streets has declined markedly in recent weeks, but Chow’s death may prove an effective catalyst. A prayer gathering is already scheduled to take place at Tamar Park, Admiralty from 1800 to 2000 on Saturday. We warn major roads in the area are likely to be blocked after dark and police are certain to be present, increasing the potential for violent clashes regardless of the purpose of the rally. There is a substantial risk of violence throughout Admiralty, Central, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay on Saturday afternoon and evening.

On Sunday 10 November, protesters plan to gather at the Cenotaph in Central at 1045 for the Remembrance Day ceremony, which will also be attended by many foreign nationals and local dignitaries. A march to protest the police use of tear gas is scheduled to start at San Wo Lane in Tuen Mun at 1400. We warn the event is almost certain to end in violent clashes between activists and the police. Attacks on businesses and entities perceived as hostile to the protest movement and nearby MTR stations are also likely.

Activists are calling for a general strike on Monday 11 November, but timings, locations and protest activities remain unconfirmed. Secondary school students in Tseung Kwan O have scheduled a rally at Hong Kong Velodrome Park at 1630. Given the death of a local 15-year-old girl in September and the death of the student from the nearby HKUST last Sunday, A2 Global Risk warns activists may use the rally to confront the police.

On 12 Tuesday November, a ‘flash-mob’ rally to mark the birthday of Sun Yat-sen, the first president of the Chinese republic, is scheduled at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin at 2000. There is a significant risk of disruption to businesses and we advise local residents and visitors to avoid the mall and nearby areas where possible, and to avoid indicating political affiliations if caught in a demonstration.

On 14 Thursday November, protesters plan to gather at Edinburgh Place at 1930 for a rally against alleged police harassment and hostility towards firefighters and medical workers. We warn the rally is likely to be well-attended with a high potential for unrest. Protesters also plan to demonstrate at the Hong Kong Stadium during a football match with Bahrain, increasing the potential of post-match unrest in Causeway Bay and adjacent areas where the stadium is located.

 

INTERNATIONAL INCIDENTS

On Saturday 2 November, hundreds of pro-democracy activists marched through central London, urging the United Kingdom to honor its perceived responsibilities over Hong Kong.


UPCOMING PROTESTS 

Friday 8 November

A student rally is scheduled at Kwun Tong Promenade, New Territories, from 1700 to 2000. It has been approved by the police. 

Saturday 9 November

Protesters are planning a rally to mark the fifth month of the anti-government protests. Timing and locations remain unconfirmed, but a mass demonstration is unlikely. However, flash-mob rallies are probable across Hong Kong at the following locations (all are in the New Territories or Kowloon, other than the final entry):

  • Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai
  • Kwun Tong, Wong Tai Sin
  • Tsuen Wan, Kwai Fong
  • Sha Tin, Che Kung Temple, Tai Wai Village
  • Tai Po, Fanling and Sheung Shui in North District
  • Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok, Sham Shui Po
  • Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay

A gathering to pray for anti-government activists is scheduled at Tamar Park, Admiralty, from 1800 to 2000. Letters of approval are pending.

Sunday 10 November

A march is scheduled at San Wo Lane, Tuen Mun, at 1400, to protest against the use of tear gas by police. Letters of approval are pending.

A rally is planned at The Cenotaph, Central, at 1045 for the annual Remembrance Day ceremony.

Monday 11 November

Secondary school students plan to stage a rally at Hong Kong Velodrome Park, Tseung Kwan O, at 1630. Letters of approval are pending.

Tuesday 12 November

Protesters plan to sing and pray at Kwai Chung Plaza at 1900.

A ‘flash-mob’ rally to mark the birthday of Sun Yat-sen is scheduled at New Town Plaza, Sha Tin, at 2000.  

Thursday 14 November

A demonstration to support firefighters and medical workers is planned at Edinburgh Place, Central, at 1930. Letters of approval are pending.

Rallies are scheduled at Hong Kong Stadium for the Hong Kong and Bahrain football match.

 

PROTEST CHRONOLOGY 1-7 NOVEMBER

Saturday 2 November

Thousands of people gathered at Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, for election campaign rallies organised by pro-democracy district council candidates. They occupied Hennessy Road and built barricades to block Causeway Bay Road. They dispersed after police fired tear gas.  

A large protest group marched from the park to Wan Chai and Central. During the afternoon police and protesters clashed around Jardine’s Crescent, Wan Chai Fire Station, Southorn Playground and Johnston Road. Violence also occurred on Lung Wo Road and Connaught Road Central after dark.

Separately, hundreds joined a singing rally on Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, which ended with scuffles between participants, police and members of the public.  

Sunday 3 November

Protests against alleged police brutality occurred in multiple districts across the territory. In the afternoon, demonstrators gathered outside Sha Tin Town Hall and inside New Town Plaza mall in Sha Tin and its attached MTR station, where they clashed with police.

A crowd also gathered at Tamar Park in Admiralty blocked footbridges connecting the park with nearby buildings.

Protesters formed a human chain in the CityPlaza mall in Taikoo Shing. Police stormed the mall and used pepper spray after some protesters sprayed graffiti at the entrances of two restaurants. Tensions escalated after dark when a man speaking Mandarin reportedly slashed several people and bit off part of the ear of a district councillor outside the mall. Police fired tear gas on Tai Mou Avenue around 2200.

Clashes also occurred at the Tai Po Mega Mall in Tai Po.

Monday 4 November

In the early hours police fired tear gas near the Sheung Tak Estate to clear demonstrators who had occupied streets in Tseung Kwan O. It was reported during the clash a Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) student fell from the third floor of a car park onto the second floor while trying to avoid tear gas and was critically injured. He died on 8 Friday November.

Tuesday 5 November

Protesters gathered in Tsim Sha Tsui to mark the one-month anniversary of the ban on wearing masks to prevent facial identification. Dozens of people occupied Centenary Gardens between Chatham Road South and Mody Road, while others blocked sections of Nathan Road. Police responded with water cannon.

Protesters blocked roads close to the Kwong Ming and Sheung Tak estates in Tseung Kwan O, protesting over what they alleged was the police responsibility for the injured HKUST student. They threw petrol bombs at the police, who responded with rounds of tear gas.

Wednesday 6 November

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho was stabbed and suffered minor injuries during campaigning for elections near Richland Garden, Wu Chui Road, Tuen Mun.

Scuffles broke out between local students and those from mainland China during a meeting at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology set to discuss the injured student.

Thursday 7 November

Hundreds of graduates of the Chinese University of Hong Kong protested and marched on campus during a graduation ceremony. Dozens also staged a protest at the graduation ceremony of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

 

END REPORT