Hong Kong officials and Chinese state media warned of consequences if violence continued, as a third day of protests disrupted traffic across the city and the government announced for the first time that it would close public schools.
The city remained confident in its ability to contain the chaos, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung - Hong Kong’s No. 2 official - told reporters. Demonstrators returned to the Chinese University of Hong Kong and further rallies took place in the financial hub into the evening.
The protests, which have been raging for five months in pursuit of greater democracy in the former British colony, intensified Friday after a student died of injuries sustained near a protest. Chief Executive Carrie Lam - with a fresh nod of support from Communist Party leaders in Beijing - has vowed not to give in to violent demonstrations.
- City suspends all public school classes on Thursday.
- Lam reportedly meeting with senior officials Wednesday night
- Security chief warns of “unthinkable” consequences if violence continues.
- Local stocks fell, with the benchmark Hang Seng index closing down 1.8%.
- Oxfam cancels popular Trailwalker event due to unrest.
Key officials holding late night meeting (11:24 p.m.)
Local broadcaster RTHK reported government officials arrived at Lam’s official residence around 10 p.m. local time. It gave no further details.
RTHK separately reported that several black-clad protesters had gathered outside the People’s Liberation Army barracks in the city, where they argued with Chinese military officers who warned them to disperse.
70-year-old man in critical condition (10:08 p.m.)The Hospital Authority confirmed it’s admitted a 70-year-old man in critical condition. He was hit by a brick-shaped hard object during scuffles outside Sheung Shui station in the city’s New Territories, according to local newspaper Ming Pao.
Separately, the High Court dismissed an application for an injunction to halt police from entering the campus of Chinese University, Radio Television Hong Kong reported. Counsel for the students had argued there was no rioting within the university and that it was the entry of police that sparked clashes, according to RTHK; counsel for the government said that was not true and that students and protesters were throwing petrol bombs and bricks.
Riot police move into business district (8:07 p.m.)In Central, Hong Kong’s business and retail center, riot police moved in on roads to clear out protesters in the early evening. Several people were seen being subdued by the police, while others reported pepper spray being used. Officers with helmets, face masks, batons and shields were seen guarding the streets at around 8 p.m. Very few pedestrians were seen in the normally busy area.
The “unpredictability of the situation in Hong Kong” also led to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. to cancel the 63rd Assembly of Presidents event scheduled to take place next week in the city, the companies said in a joint statement.
HKU cancels classes for the week (5:51 p.m.)The University of Hong Kong, one of the city’s premier academic institutions, said it would suspend classes for the remainder of the school week from Nov. 14-16. It cited uncertainties with the transportation system and time needed to repair damage to facilities across its campus, and said offices would remain open.
Taiwan offers to evacuate its CUHK students (5:41 p.m.)Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council has arranged buses and flights back to the democratically run island for 85 Taiwanese students who attend the Chinese University of Hong Kong, council spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng said. He said 197 students, including those who arranged their own travel, were expected to return to Taiwan from Hong Kong Wednesday and that the government would continue to monitor the situation in the city and provide necessary assistance.
There are 1,021 Taiwanese students currently enrolled in universities in neighboring Hong Kong. CUHK was the site of fierce clashes between protesters and police Tuesday.
Police fired 1,600 tear gas rounds Tuesday (5 p.m.)Police officials said Wednesday that 1,567 rounds of tear gas were fired and 142 people arrested Tuesday, a day marked by fierce clashes between protesters and officers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The school’s campus “is not a place out of the law,” said Chief Superintendent for Public Relations Tse Chun-chung.
Police said they had no choice but to use force and set up cordon lines at a footbridge on the campus Tuesday night, and that they fired the gas when “rioters” didn’t stop throwing bricks at their cordon. The university contacted the police force several times Tuesday to ask the officers to leave, police added. They said they agreed to on condition protesters stopped throwing objects including bricks and fire bombs at them, but the demonstrators persisted.
China condemns U.S. bill (3:30 p.m.)Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang condemned U.S. legislation designed to support Hong Kong protesters, urging Washington to immediately stop interfering in the country’s affairs. Geng promised resolute measures to safeguard China’s interests if the bill passes.
Protest violence has pushed Hong Kong into an extremely dangerous situation situation, Geng said, reiterating Beijing’s support for the city’s police force.
Classes suspended Thursday (2:24 p.m.)Hong Kong’s Education Bureau announced that all kindergartens, primary and secondary schools and special-needs schools would suspend classes on Thursday for safety reasons. Classes at some local campuses had already been canceled Wednesday, the day after violent clashes raged between police and protesters at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Oxfam cancels race (2:08 p.m.)Oxfam Hong Kong said it was canceling its 100 kilometer (62 mile) Trailwalker race, citing unforeseeable developments in recent social events and the ongoing traffic situation. The organization said it had made the “difficult decision” after careful consideration as it prioritized the safety of participants and volunteers. It had been scheduled for Friday through Sunday. About 5,000 walkers participate in the event annually.
China ratchets up rhetoric (1:31 p.m.)
Chinese state media responded to the escalating street violence in Hong Kong with harshly-worded commentaries, condemning some politicians and teachers for emboldening the demonstrators as social media users called protesters “cockroaches” and “thugs.” From late Tuesday to Wednesday morning, major state-owned news outlets including the Communist Party’s Global Times, People’s Daily and Xinhua News Agency ran stories on Hong Kong highlighting destructive behavior by pro-democracy protesters. The Global Times repeated a warning that Beijing could intervene militarily.