SPECIAL ALERT: HONG KONG PROTEST MONITOR 13 September 2019
THE SITUATION NOW
As A2 Global Risk forecast in last week’s Protest Monitor, the formal withdrawal of the extradition bill had no significant impact on reducing unrest in the territory. There were no significant political developments during the reporting period, with neither protesters nor the government seemingly able to further their respective positions.
Violent clashes between police and protesters occurred on Friday 6 September and continued through the weekend, resulting in at least 157 arrests. While there were no reports of petrol bombs being used during the period, protesters set alight multiple roadblocks and vandalised several Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations. The police also used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets on multiple occasions against protesters. At least 19 people required medical treatment following clashes over the weekend, with two remaining in a serious condition.
Vandalism to Central MTR Station forcing its
closure on Sunday 8 September
On Saturday 7 September a planned ‘stress test’ intended to replicate the severe disruption caused to Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) on 1 September was effectively neutralised by police and the transport authorities. Airport Express trains ran limited services, operating directly between Hong Kong and Airport stations and omitting the two stops between (Kowloon and Tsing Yi). The police also established roadblocks on the Tsing Ma Bridge and checked the occupants of vehicles for airline tickets; those without tickets were barred from crossing the bridge towards the airport.
Prince Edward MTR Station in Mong Kok, Kowloon, became a major flashpoint for the second consecutive week, with protesters demanding the release of security camera footage they believed would show images of a police raid inside the station on 31 August. The station was closed around 1715 on Saturday 7 September before protesters briefly occupied the intersection of Nathan Road and Prince Edward Road, lighting fires and throwing bricks towards the Mong Kok police station. Some protesters gained access to the MTR station and destroyed ticket machines, broke windows and damaged elevators before moving on to cause similar disruption in the nearby Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok MTR stations.
During the evening police appeared to employ new tactics by aggressively pursuing protesters through the streets, apparently in order to avoid using tear gas and rubber bullets. These tactics were initially successful and observers noted police units appeared far more controlled and disciplined than on previous occasions. However, as the evening progressed the police again resorted to tear goas, pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. Incidents of unrest also occurred in Tung Chung on Lantau Island and Sha Tin in the New Territories. In a separate incident, police were filmed beating a man in Tai Po Market MTR station in the New Territories.
Protesters march towards the US Consulate on
Sunday 8 September
On Sunday 8 September tens of thousands of people gathered at Chater Garden in Central and marched towards the US Consulate. The demonstrators called on the US Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act that would allow Washington to rescind the territory’s preferential trade status with the US. The unauthorised march had been denied police permission and many observers were surprised by the high numbers of participants. The initially peaceful march devolved into violence, vandalism and arrests. Central MTR station was closed due to vandalism as protesters smashed windows and ticketing machines, and set fire to a barricade at one of the exits. Protesters occupied the intersection of Pedder Street and Connaught Road, before retreating along Hennessey Road to Causeway Bay, causing damage to Wan Chai MTR station and clashing with police along the way.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Unconfirmed rumours continue to spread that the authorities are suppressing details of up to three individuals allegedly killed by the police in Prince Edward MTR station on 31 August. A2 Global Risk has not seen any credible evidence to support these claims, but the persistence of the rumours and widespread public belief in their veracity means that further violence at Prince Edward MTR station and in the neighbouring district of Mong Kok and along Nathan Road is likely over the coming weekend.
Sit-ins at several MTR stations and adjacent shopping malls are planned for the evening of Friday 13 September (full details below). Most previous sit-ins have ended peacefully. However, violence and vandalism may occur both at the stations and inside the targeted shopping malls. Transport disruption due to station closures is possible, while local shops and businesses may close early. A2 Global Risk advises Hong Kong residents and visitors to avoid the affected areas and arrange alternative transport routes if possible.
A further ‘stress test’ at HKG planned for Saturday 14 September has been postponed until 21-22 September, reportedly to allow protesters to better prepare for the enhanced security measures in place at the airport and related transport routes. Minor disruption remains possible at Tung Cheung MTR Station, but significant disruption to airport operations is not expected.
On Sunday 15 September a proposed march from East Point Road, Causeway Bay, to Chater Road, Central, organised by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) has been denied police authorisation. The CHRF has consistently demonstrated its capacity to draw large numbers of moderate protesters to the streets and A2 Global Risk anticipates the march will be well attended, despite the lack of authorisation. A separate march is planned from Edinburgh Place, Central, to the nearby British Consulate. Given the large turnout at last week’s march to the US Consulate, this is also likely to be well attended. Both marches are expected to begin peacefully but there is a significant risk of violence and vandalism throughout Central, Admiralty and Wan Chai districts in the late afternoon and evening.
On Friday 6 September German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasised that rights and freedom must be guaranteed for the Hong Kong protests and called for an open dialogue to ensure a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
On Saturday 7 September approximately 300 activists gathered in Manhattan, New York in support of Hong and Taiwanese independence. The protest was peaceful.
On Monday 9 September prominent activist Joshua Wong met German foreign minister Heiko Mass and spoke at an event at the German Parliament, where he described Hong Kong as ‘the new Berlin’. The following day a group of pro-Beijing activists protested in Berlin. China’s Foreign Ministry summoned the German ambassador in Beijing, stating that, ‘it is extremely wrong for German media and politicians to attempt to tap into the anti-China separatist wave’ and the government ‘strongly disapproved’ the meeting. Beijing’s ambassador to Berlin stated the meeting would ‘have negative consequences on bilateral relations and the Chinese side has to react.’ He called for politicians to respect China’s sovereignty and security.
Wong is due to visit Washington DC again this week. The visit will elicit strong statements from Beijing, which has repeatedly attributed the ongoing protest movement to outside intervention, particularly from the US. Small protests by pro-Beijing activists are possible in Washington and at the US Embassy in Beijing and Consulate in Hong Kong. There is the potential for low-level violence if pro-Hong Kong counter protesters also attend.
Friday 13 September
A ‘Civility Lecture’, a part of the Tertiary Education Student Strike, is scheduled at Chater Garden, Central, with time unconfirmed. It is waiting for the police approval.
Multiple sit-in assembles are scheduled at Citylink Plaza (Sha Tin MTR station), Telford Plaza (Kowloon Bay MTR station), Elements (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station) and PopCorn (Tseung Kwan O MTR station) from 1900 to 0000 14 September.
A rally called to mourn the nine individuals who have committed suicide during the protests is scheduled at Lennon Wall in Admiralty from 1900 to 2300.
Human chains are planned at the following locations:
- Lion Rock, Kowloon, from 1900 to 0000. Protesters plan to gather at Lok Fu MTR station.
- Victoria Peak, Hong Kong island, from 1900 to 2130
- Seafront near Maritime Square, Tsing Yi island, and seafront near Tsuen Wan from 2130 to 2230
- Quarry Bay to seafront of Sai Wan Ho, on Hong Kong island from 2130 to 2235.
The ‘913 Sham Shui Po Mid-Autumn Celebration’ is scheduled at Sham Shui Po, Kowloon, from 2000 to 0000 14 September.
The ‘Tai Po Laser Light Min-Autumn Celebration’ is scheduled outside Yata, Tai Wo Road near Tai Po Police Station, New Territories, from 2100 to 0000 14 September.
The ‘Bye Buy Day HK’ campaign continues on Friday. The movement calls for the public to reduce unnecessary spending on Friday and Sunday while limiting shopping to what the organisers call ‘ethical stores.’
The ‘Tertiary Education Student Strike’ continues.
Saturday 14 September
The ‘Airport Transportation Stress Test’ at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) originally scheduled from 1300 to 0000 has been postponed until 21-22 September. Limited transport disruption remains possible.
The ‘Tin Shui Wai Family Fun Tour’ will start from Tin Sau Road Park at 1430 and end at Tin Shui Wai MTR station, New Territories, at 1830. This march is pending police authorisation.
The Secondary Students Assembly is scheduled at Edinburgh Place, Central, from 1500 to 2000.
The ‘Fireflies of Bauhinia Secondary Students Assembly’ is planned to run from 1600 to 2100 at Temple Mall in Wong Tai Sin district, New Kowloon.
Sunday 15 September
Protesters plan to gather at Edinburgh Place, Central, at 1400 and march to the nearby British Consulate. (It is not known if police authorisation has been sought or obtained).
The ‘CHRF Demonstration’ is scheduled from 1500 to 2100. Protesters plan to march from East Point Road, Causeway Bay to Pedestrianisation at Chater Road, Central. Police authorisation has been refused but the march is likely to go ahead regardless.
The ‘Bye Buy Day HK’ is expected to continue.
Monday 16 September
Secondary school students plan to strike for one day each week from 2 September onwards. They will rally by districts and schools.
A protest is scheduled at the Inland Revenue Department, 5 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, from 1200 to 1800.
PROTEST CHRONOLOGY 6 SEPTEMBER – 12 SEPTEMBER
Friday 6 September
Students and alumni of Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity boycotted class and formed a human chain near Ho Tung Road in Kowloon Tong, to support the anti-extradition bill campaign.
In the afternoon, hundreds of protesters gathered inside the Prince Edward MTR station in Mong Kok. After the station closed at around 1715, they moved outside and then then occupied the intersection of Nathan Road and Prince Edward Road. They directed laser pointers at the Mong Kok Police station nearby, set fires in the street, and smashed equipment in Prince Edward Station and its nearby Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei stations. Police responded with rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas and cleared the area by midnight on Saturday 7 September.
In the evening, a crowd gathered separately at Chater Garden, Central, accusing the police of unfair arrests of politicians’ aides and social workers. No serious clashes were reported.
Saturday 7 September
Hundreds started a sit-in at Telford Plaza mall in Kowloon Bay and later marched around the shopping precinct.
Dozens of people demonstrated in Sha Tin’s Citylink Plaza.
Around 1500, a small group gathered illegally at Tung Chung MTR station, the nearby MTR station to Hong Kong International Airport. They dispersed around 1700 when riot police appeared.
In the early evening, protesters moved to Mong Kok and again gathered at Prince Edward MTR Station, set small fires and blocked roads near Mong Kok police station. Riot police dispersed the demonstrators down Nathan Road.
In the evening, residents in Tung Chung, Kowloon, hurled objects at police officers who remained in the area. No serious clashes occurred but some arrests were made.
Around 2300, protesters and police clashed inside Sha Tin MTR station. Protesters threw rubbish bins and other objects at police, who responded with pepper spray.
Sunday 8 September
In the afternoon thousands of protesters rallied at Chater Garden, Central, and marched towards the US consulate. The march began peacefully but later some activists engaged in violent confrontations with the police. Protesters barricaded at one of the exits of the Central MTR station before setting it on fire. Some barricades were also set alight at the intersection of Connaught Road Central and Pedder Street. Protesters also vandalised ticket machines, broke windows and damage escalators in the station. The police dispersed the march around 1645.
Some protesters regrouped at Admiralty MTR station while others moved to and vandalised equipment inside the Wan Chai MTR station. Others moved towards Causeway Bay where at around 1900 police fired multiple tear gas rounds at some protesters pushing a large recycling container towards the Causeway Bay MTR station.
A group then gathered on Hennessy Road outside the Sogo department store. At around 2030 police fired multiple tear gas rounds at a small group of protesters in Hennessy Road.
Protests also occurred in Kowloon, where barricades were built at the intersection of Nathan Road and Prince Edward Road and demonstrators aimed laser pointers at the Mong Kok police station. Police fired beanbag rounds and rubber bullets and then advanced down the area’s many streets to outflank the protesters, who withdrew.
Monday 9 September
No major rallies reported.
Tuesday 10 September
At around 1030 over 60 tour buses gathered at Shing Kai Road, Kowloon, and then drove slowly around the area as a means to highlight the damage the protests were causing Hong Kong’s tourism industry.
Wednesday 11 September
Thousands gathered in shopping malls including New Town Plaza in Sha Tin, Olympian City in West Kowloon, Plaza Hollywood in Diamond Hill and Tsuen Wan Plaza, singing ‘Glory to Hong Kong’, a recent composition created and adopted by most protesters as anthem.
Thursday 12 September
At around 1300 several hundred pro-Beijing protesters and a smaller number of anti-government protesters gathered in the IFC Mall in Central and sang competing anthems. Some stores were temporarily closed.