THE SITUATION NOW
Hong Kong began its 20th week of protests with unrest over the weekend of 18-20 October that resulted in at least 68 arrests. This week has witnessed a notable escalation of vandalism targeting private commercial interests. Numerous Chinese-owned and Chinese-linked businesses were targeted in vandalism and arson attacks during riots, while an alleged protester-linked restaurant was vandalised by unknown masked assailants. For the first time a police bomb disposal robot was deployed to a suspected improvised explosive device (IED) and an anti-government demonstrator was stabbed in the neck by a suspected pro-China activist.
During the afternoon of Saturday 19 October, a 19-year-old man handing out leaflets near Lennon Wall in the north-eastern Tai Po district, Kowloon was stabbed in the neck and abdomen. Police later arrested a 22-year-old suspect who was reportedly shouting pro-Beijing slogans during the attack. In the evening, hundreds joined an approved rally at Edinburgh Place in Central, praying for those injured during the protests and calling for humanitarian support from the international community. The crowd dispersed around 2100 local time and no further violence was reported.
A protester throwing back a police tear gas canister during the Tsim Sha Tsui march on 20 October 2019
On Sunday 20 October, a large crowd joined an unsanctioned march from Tsim Sha Tsui to West Kowloon. Anticipating that there would be violence targeting Mainland Chinese visitors, the authorities closed Austin and Tsim Sha Tsui Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations from 1200 and suspended some cross-border services between the West Kowloon high-speed rail station and China’s Guangzhou province.
The march started peacefully but by around 1600 protesters had occupied Nathan Road and Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui and began throwing petrol bombs at the Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station. The police responded with tear gas and deployed a water cannon, forcing the protesters to disperse and move north. Protesters later gathered at Mong Kok Police Station where police fired at them with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Throughout the day, protesters deployed hit-and-run tactics, blocking major streets in Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei, and setting multiple barricades on fire. Tsim Sha Tsui and Austin MTR Stations were vandalised and protesters threw petrol bombs inside Mong Kok,Yau Ma Tei and Lai Chi Kok MTR stations.
The Tong Ren Tang branch was smashed during the Tsim Sha Tsui march on 20 October 2019
Along Nathan Road, several Chinese-owned banks, including Bank of China (Hong Kong), China Construction Bank and China CITIC Bank were heavily vandalised. As night fell, some protesters returned to target Chinese-linked shops, vandalising and fire-bombing a Best Mart 360 store on Sai Yee Street, a Xiaomi smartphone shop on Nathan Road and a Tong Ren Tang branch on Argyle Street. A Yoshinoya branch and a UNISO store were also vandalised.
Earlier in Tai Po, in the New Territories, police seized two vehicles transporting 42 bottles believed to be petrol bombs and what were reported to be other hazardous chemical materials. At around 1830, a police bomb disposal squad conducted a controlled explosion on a suspected IED found at the intersection of Lai Chi Kok Road and Tong Mi Road in Kowloon. It remains unclear if this was a viable device or a fake.
In the evening of Monday 21 October, a crowd occupied sections of Castle Peak Road in Yuen Long to mark the three-month anniversary of the 21 July attack in which suspected members of organised crime ‘triad’ groups attacked protesters and members of the public. As A2 Global Risk forecast, the event quickly turned violent. Protesters vandalised China-linked banks on Tai Tong Road and threw petrol bombs at the Shap Pat Heung rural committee building on Yau Tin East Road and near Hong Lok Road Light Rail Stop. Police launched multiple volleys of tear gas starting from around 2130.
Also on Monday 21 October, protesters staged peaceful sit-ins at multiple places including Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, Tseung Kwan O, Tai Koo, Tuen Mun MTR stations and Yo Ho mall.
On Wednesday 23 October, hundreds of pro-democracy protesters formed a human chain outside the British Consulate in Admiralty, appealing for the United Kingdom to offer British citizenship to Hong Kong residents on humanitarian grounds.
On Thursday 24 October, the Lung Mun Café in Hung Hom was vandalised by four masked men, whose identities remain unknown. The owner claimed the vandalism caused losses of at least HKD100,000. Despite the damages, he chose not to call the police. Lung Mun Café has been publicly supportive of anti-government protesters and has been offering free meals to student activists since August 2019.
In the evening of Thursday 24 October, protesters rallied at Chater Garden in Central, expressing their solidarity with those protesting in Catalonia, Spain. Some activists said they were not supporting the independence movement in Catalonia but only gathered to condemn Spanish police’s alleged brutality.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The attack on the Lung Mun Café is the first time a business perceived as supportive of the protests has been targeted in violence. There is a substantial risk this incident will lead to further escalation of violence targeting business entities perceived to have a clear political alignment with the pro-democracy movement. Such acts of violence can occur at any time, not just during protests, and have the potential to present a serious threat to anyone caught in the vicinity.
We assess that there is now a possibility of the use of explosive devices by radical elements of the protest groups, however, this would indicate a significant increase in the level of violence and would likely seriously impact the support of the protesters by the general public.
On Saturday 26 October, a rally in support of health professionals is scheduled at Chater Garden, Central from 1800 to 2100, which has been approved by the police. Violence during the scheduled protest times is unlikely but a large turnout could cause localised transport disruption. There is a significant risk that protesters will attempt to occupy major roads in the vicinity after the protest, which will escalate into violence between police and protesters. As a result, A2 Global Risk advises residents and travellers to avoid Central, Admiralty and Wan Chai on Saturday night.
On Sunday 27 October, a demonstration to condemn the police’s use of water cannons is planned at 1500 at Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui. During the clashes in Tsim Sha Tsui on 20 October a water cannon sprayed blue-dyed water at the entrance and gates of the Kowloon Mosque and hit several journalists. Protesters also claim the water cannon sprayed toxic liquids rather than water. A2 Global Risk has not seen any credible evidence to support this allegation but there remains a significant risk of violence throughout Kowloon on Sunday afternoon and evening.
On Thursday 31 October, a rally is scheduled at Prince Edward MTR station in Mong Kok to commemorate the two-month anniversary of the 31 August clashes in which police allegedly attacked passengers indiscriminately. Prince Edward MTR station has been a frequent flashpoint area for violence since the 31 August incident and A2 Global Risk advises against travel to or through the station after 1800 on 31 October.
On Friday 18 October, hundreds of Hong Kong supporters congregated in the Barclays Centre, a sports arena in Brooklyn, New York, United States during the Nets-Toronto Raptors competition.
On Tuesday 22 October, a group of Hong Kong supporters rallied around Staples Centre in Downtown Los Angeles, United States. They handed out yellow T-shirts reading ‘Fight for freedom, Stand with Hong Kong’ before the Lakers-Clippers game started.
On the same day in Toronto, Canada, pro-Hong Kong activists handed out black T-shirts writing "The North Stand with Hong Kong" ahead of the Raptors' game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Friday 25 October
Protesters appeal for Hong Kong residents to commute to work on foot. Routes are planned as following:
- Kowloon Bay Station Exit A to Kwun Tong Business Area
- Star Ferry Pier, Tsim Sha Tsui to Mong Kok
- Chater Garden, Central to Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island
- Fortress Hill Station to Taikoo Place, Hong Kong Island
Students plan to form human chains between 1230 to 1315 at Kowloon Park.
Protesters plan to form a human chain from Hong Kong Design Institute in Tseung Kwan O to Tseung Kwan O Waterfront Park from 1900 to 2100.
Saturday 26 October
A prayer rally is planned at Chater Garden, Central at 1430.
The ‘Rally of Health Professionals’ is scheduled at Chater Garden, Central from 1800 to 2100. Letter of No Objection has been obtained.
Sunday 27 October
A rally named ‘Fight Against Police Brutality and Stand with Muslim, Citizens & Journalists’ is scheduled at 1500 at Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.
The ‘Mourning by Paper Crane of Liberty’ is scheduled at Kwun Tong Promenade from 1600 to 2000.
Thursday 31 October
A rally to commemorate two months since the ‘terrorist attack’ at Prince Edward Station is scheduled at Prince Edward Station, Mong Kok, Kowloon. Time remains unconfirmed.
A march referred as ‘Masquerade Halloween’ is scheduled from 1930 to 2200. Protesters plan to march from Victoria Park, Causeway Bay to Lan Kwai Fong, Central.
PROTEST CHRONOLOGY 18-24 OCTOBER
Friday 18 October
In the afternoon, a group of medical staff staged a sit-in at Tuen Mun Hospital, protesting a police officer trespassing a hospital’s maternity ward.
Hundreds of masked secondary school students rallied at the University of Hong Kong.
In the evening, thousands of protesters wearing face masks formed human chains across all 18 districts in Hong Kong in violation of the anti-mask law.
Saturday 19 October
In the afternoon, a 19-year-old man was stabbed in the neck and abdomen by a man shouting pro-China slogans near a Lennon Wall in Tai Po district.
In the evening, several hundred rallied at Edinburgh Place, Central to appeal for international humanitarian support for Hong Kong.
Sunday 20 October
A large crowd joined an illegal march from Tsim Sha Tsui to West Kowloon high-speed train terminus. They occupied Nathan Road and Canton Road and then scattered to Tai Kok Tsui, Kowloon Tong, Mong Kok and Sham Shui Po.
Protesters threw petrol bombs towards the Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station. Police responded with tear gas and deployed water cannon, and then chased protesters down Nathan Road. Some protesters set up makeshift barricades, blocking Austin Road and Jordan Road. Meanwhile, near Mong Kok Police Station protesters hurled petrol bombs at police, who responded with tear gas and water cannon.
Outside Sham Shui Po police station, police deployed an anti-riot vehicle to disperse protesters.
Throughout the day, rioters also reportedly vandalized, spray-painted and hurled petrol bombs into Mong Kok, Yau Ma Tei, Austin and Lai Chi Kok MTR stations.
Monday 21 October
Around 1900, a group of protesters started a sit-in near Yuen Long MTR station. They blocked Castle Peak Road, Kuk Ting Street and Tai Tong Road. Protesters reportedly threw petrol bombs at the Shap Pat Heung rural committee building on Yau Tin East Road and near Hong Lok Road Light Rail stop. Police fired multiple rounds of tear gas.
Protesters also staged sit-ins elsewhere, including at Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, Tseung Kwan O, Tai Koo, Tuen Mun MTR stations and Yo Ho mall in Yuen Long.
Wednesday 23 October
A group of animal rights activists gathered outside the Police Headquarter in Wan Chai, urging the police to stop deploying police dogs during anti-protest operations.
Hundreds formed a human chain outside the British Consulate in Admiralty, appealing for the United Kingdom to offer Hong Kong people citizenship options.
Thursday 24 October
At night, thousands of protesters gathered at Chater Garden in Central to show solidarity with the independence movement in Catalonia, Spain.