‘A complete trap’: Police move in after Hong Kong protesters storm Legislative Council
Some politicians declared it had been a trap that the young protesters had walked into. Labour politician Fernando Cheung told the South China Morning Post the scenes would lead to a public backlash. “This is a complete trap, I’m sorry that people played into it,” he said.
He told the BBC the police could have earlier dispelled the protesters but had “purposely allowed them to break into the building and vandalise it”.
But at a 4am press conference police chief Stephen Lo denied claims that police had laid a trap and said his officers had been under seige from protesters who had used violent tactics.
Keith Richburg, a journalism professor at the University of Hong Kong, wrote on Twitter: “Total trap. Turn the public against the demonstrators. Stay back and let them vandalise. Expect a backlash now.”
The Hong Kong government released a statement at 11pm on Monday declaring, “A group of rioters charged the Legislative Council complex … and severely damaged the building and its facilities… The rioters vandalised the facilities after dashing into the complex”. The statement urged protesters to leave the area immediately.
Sydney Morning Herald
Hong Kong police fire teargas and charge at protesters
Shortly after midnight local time (1600 BST), police in riot gear held up a black flag reading “teargas warning” before shooting several rounds of the gas into protesters. They then climbed over barricades put up by protesters earlier in the day and charged at the people gathered.
Police had issued several warnings through the evening and appeared to be gearing up for violent clashes, but had left the protesters largely unhindered in their efforts even as the group tore up the inside of the building. Local TV footage showed police officers armed with non-lethal weaponry in other parts of the government complex as the protesters broke in.
While a small splinter group was causing trouble at the legislature, 550,000 people marched peacefully through downtown Hong Kong without any scenes of violence or chaos.
The organisers of that rally – the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) – issued a joint statement with democratic lawmakers placing the blame for the destruction at the legislative council squarely on Lam, saying she had “ignored the demands of the people and pushed youngsters towards desperation”.
Hong Kong police clear protesters occupying legislature after day of unprecedented violence and chaos
It was after midnight when hundreds of riot police left their headquarters in Wan Chai to swoop into action and converge upon the legislature from multiple directions.
Police advanced, clearing roadblocks and responding with tear gas as retreating protesters threw bricks, eggs and umbrellas at them.
By 1am, it was all but over and police had taken back the entire area around the legislature, after driving off scattered pockets of protesters.
The violence, perpetrated by mostly masked youths wearing helmets, was on a scale that stunned the city.
As hundreds of thousands marched peacefully on the streets in the afternoon under the broader umbrella of the annual July 1 mass rally, when Hongkongers traditionally come out in force to air their grievances against the government, the more radical faction besieging the Legco building continued their assault for hours with virtually no authorities to challenge them.
South China Morning Post
Hong Kong’s leader condemns anti-government protesters in emergency press conference as chaos in city continues
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has responded to the chaos in the city – with a 4am emergency press conference.
Ms Lam condemned what she called extremely violent behaviour after thousands of protesters stormed a government complex.
“The extreme use of violence and vandalism from the protesters who stormed into the Legislative Council building. This is something we should seriously condemn,” she said.
“Nothing is more important than the rule of law in Hong Kong.”
The Beijing-backed leader is now clinging on to her job at a time of an unprecedented backlash against the government, which poses the greatest popular challenge to Chinese leader Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
Hong Kong police move to forcibly clear protesters occupying legislature complex
Police used force early Tuesday to clear thousands of protesters in and around Hong Kong’s legislative building after some broke in and occupied it Monday, the 22nd anniversary of the semiautonomous city’s return to Chinese rule.
The escalation has brought Hong Kong into unprecedented and uncertain territory, and represents the biggest test of Beijing’s grip over the global financial hub and the status under which it operates.
Mostly young protesters on Monday smashed their way through metal barricades and glass doors surrounding the Legislative Council. As they wrote graffiti on walls, tore down portraits of pro-Beijing officials, and emptied rooms of chairs and desks, they pushed weeks of tensions and mass demonstrations here to a new level.
The demonstrators occupying the complex wrote a declaration that included a call for overthrowing the “puppet Legislative Council and the Government,” and they vowed to stay. But just after midnight Tuesday, police equipped with riot shields, tear gas and projectiles began removing protesters from streets surrounding the complex, sending them fleeing. Officers then retook the complex, stopping and frisking those who remained nearby.
More than 500,000 demonstrators marched peacefully across the city Monday and forced major thoroughfares to shut down.
The scenes of defiance were the latest indication that anger here, sparked by plans to allow extraditions to China but now incorporating broader concerns about Hong Kong’s autonomy and Beijing’s influence, will not be easily quelled.
The Washington Post
What the Hong Kong Protests Are Really About
The Chinese government, which supported the extradition measure, had a much broader view of the protests. It recognized them as the first salvo in a new cold war, one in which the otherwise unarmed Hong Kong people wield the most powerful weapon in the fight against the Chinese Communist Party: moral force.
In much of the West, moral force is underestimated. Communists never make that mistake. There is a reason Beijing will never invite the pope or the Dalai Lama for a visit to China. The government knows that whenever its leaders must stand beside anyone with even the slightest moral legitimacy, they suffer by the comparison. Moral force makes Communists insecure.
And for good reason. As China was reminded this week, as riot police officers used pepper spray and batons on demonstrators in Hong Kong, the protests have been holding a mirror up to China. What rattles Beijing is that it sees in that mirror what the rest of the world sees: a monster.
Our struggle with Beijing, if successful, can help China’s leaders begin to accept the need for authority earned through the moral admiration of the world, not through the barrel of a gun. But if Beijing’s approach prevails, when China becomes the world’s biggest economy — which it inevitably will — the West will face a far great monster.
Jimmy Lai writing for the New York Times
China’s state-controlled media has completely ignored coverage of Hong Kong protests
Hong Kong made headlines on Monday as protesters stormed the streets and infiltrated the city’s legislative building – with many residents making clear just how fed up they are with Chinese influence over the territory.
In China, however, dramatic imagery of the protests failed to make its way onto state-controlled media channels. Rather, there was no mention at all of Monday’s protests – with the evening news broadcast instead showcasing the morning’s flag-raising ceremony and a speech by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, according to the Associated Press, creating, in effect, a media blackout.
The takeover of the legislative building coincided with the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from British to Chinese rule. Over two decades ago, in 1997, the British handed Hong Kong back to China under an agreement in which the territory could partly govern itself until 2047, when it will be absorbed into mainland China.
“Now Hong Kong has become a source of what many mainlanders fear most: instability,” Yuan writes. “They don’t see a fight over individual rights. They see ungrateful separatists and troublemakers. And they believe the Communist Party will get its way eventually.”