Hong Kong/Singapore/Jakarta (Nov 15). On Thursday (Nov 14), Hong Kong experienced another day of chaos. Roads were blocked, many train and bus services suspended, schools closed.
About escalating violence in Hong Kong, President Xi Jinping stated that recent actions by protesters have “seriously challenged the unique status of Hong Kong. He warned deepening protests in Hong Kong threaten the “one country, two systems” which Hong Kong has the privilege.
“Stopping violence and controlling chaos while restoring order is currently Hong Kong’s most urgent task,” Xi said in comments reported by the People’s Daily.
Hong Kong has been ruled by a unique system since its handover from British rule to China in 1997, guaranteeing greater freedoms than seen on the mainland.
But protests, which began against a now shelved extradition bill to China, have spiraled into wider calls for democracy and police accountability as worsening violence rocks the city.
For a fourth straight day since Chow Tsz-lok, a HKUST student, died on Monday (Nov 11) after falling from the Sheung Tak car park’s third floor protesters took over the Asian financial hub. They caused disruption across the city with barricades and rallies, as the police drafted in reinforcements and the government denied so many rumours.
Six months of anti-government political action have morphed from peaceful mass rallies into a total chaos. It entered a new phase on Monday when hardcore protesters embarked on a campaign to “blossom everywhere“, a campaign of violent hit-and-run confrontations with police by groups of black-clad protesters.
There’re no signs of relenting so nearly 30,000-strong city police force announced it was looking for other reinforcements while drafting in 100 prison guards.
“The ongoing riots with their massive scale, simultaneous occurrence in various districts and grave severity of violence, make it necessary to strengthen the support for the police’s front-line officers,” a police spokesman said in a statement announcing the prison guards would be called in.
The government was criticized for its failure to bring the city back to normal. Hong Kong has been paralyzed by more traffic chaos on Thursday as protesters continue their new strategy of trying to grind the city’s transport links to a standstill on weekdays.
Protesters put up barricades of chairs, tables and boards at The Cross-Harbour Tunnel. They were commandeered from neighboring Polytechnic University. They also set the tollbooths on fire and unfurled a giant Chinese flag.
At the University of Hong Kong, protesters had cemented a low wall of bricks on one road. They also control a bridge threatening to throw petrol bombs at any passing traffic.
Black-clad protesters were also guarding side roads they have barricaded with bamboo poles and improvised structures, making travel into the city for residents difficult. When tried to pass through the barriers, some drivers surprised by petrol bombs flung at their cars.
With key arterial roads were cut by brick and bamboo barricades, a cross-harbour tunnel was closed, and metro stations and bus services suspended, many people of the city’s 7.5 million citizens were struggling to get to work.
Some joined lunchtime rallies across the city, shouting “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong”.
Authorities ordered schools and universities to close until next week. Major universities have announced they will shorten the term or replace classes with online lectures.
Hong Kong becomes a city bitterly divided, with scuffles between police and protesters as well as pro- and anti-Beijing civilians increasingly violent and frequent.