Support pours in for Hong Kong police

By Wang Cong and Chen Qingqing in Hong Kong Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/2 0:43:39

Messages sent to the Hong Kong police that express appreciation for their professionalism in handling violent protests are displayed inside the headquarters of the Hong Kong Police Force in Wan Chai on Thursday. Photo: Chen Qingqing/GT

Infuriated and frustrated over radical elements in Hong Kong and their foreign conspirators' persistent attacks on the city's police force, which has been under tremendous pressure since June, some police officers, even their family members, said they have been constantly attacked by radical anti-government protesters, while Western media and some Hong Kong press gave no voice to them.

May, the wife of a Hong Kong police officer who participated in the recent law enforcement work in the city, lives in a neighborhood where many other police officers' family members reside. 

Following recent riots when biased media reports exaggerated the police abusing force and intentionally ignored the reason for the use of force, the image of so-called police cracking down on Hong Kong citizens has become tangible pressure in the community, she told the Global Times. 

May said she has been receiving strange phone calls in the middle of the night lately where there is no voice on the other end of the line, and many others like her are harassed by radical protesters.

Children of police officers have also reportedly been harassed or isolated at school after their identities were exposed.

The wife said after the mob stormed into the Hong Kong Legislative Council building in July, her daughter, who is in college, texted her and said "Mom, how about we move to the mainland? It's too scary here."

Such scary and helpless sentiment is now shared by many police officers' families, and also by police officers themselves. 

Since June 9, over 1,200 Hong Kong police officers' personal data and their families' were leaked online, including their phone numbers, addresses, ID numbers. Some even publicly incited and abetted others to kill police officers and hurt their children, the Hong Kong police said on Thursday.

Police officers have received threats and some and their families have even been harassed after their personal information was leaked, Ronny Chan, chairman of the Superintendents' Association of the Hong Kong Police Force, told reporters at the police headquarters on Thursday. 

"The pressure on the officers, both physical and emotional, is enormous," he said.  

Ronny Chan, chairman of Superintendents' Association of the Hong Kong Police Force. Photo: Chen Qingqing/GT

The Global Times reporters saw widespread online attacks against the Hong Kong police, and some anti-government protesters leaked police officers' pictures on social networks like Telegram and LIHKG. 

During the dispersal operations after violent riots occurred in recent protests, protesters also threw umbrella, bricks, and corrosive liquids at the police. 

The Hong Kong Police Force, which is the only law enforcement agency in the city, has become the biggest victim in political fights incited by local radical groups and some Western forces. And while public support is necessary, more concrete actions need to be taken to change the situation, a former senior leader at the police force told the Global Times on Thursday.

"Apart from voices of support, what the police needs is dignity, power and the support of the prosecutors and the judiciary system. Right now, we don't have any of that," said the senior leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Growing support

Facing growing pressure, Hong Kong police representatives said they still have confidence in maintaining social order, and they received encouragement not only from Hong Kong but also from the Chinese mainland. 

The growing public support, coming on top of powerful backing from the central government and the Chinese military, offers much-needed encouragement for the police once hailed as Asia's finest but lately under serious pressure and in grave danger from physical and verbal attacks by violent protesters and their foreign backers. 

Since violent protests broke out two months ago in the city known for its vigorous legal system, anti-government forces have spared no effort in assaulting officers' in person and their images. They have adopted a consistent strategy where they initiate attacks on officers and then cover up their cowardly acts with the help of ill-intentioned foreign supporters and media organizations using biased comments and reports against officers.

The strategy was on vivid display over the past couple of days after these radical forces and foreign media outlets including influential ones such as the UK's publically funded BBC, rushed to use pictures and videos of a police officer holding a shotgun to support claims of police brutality.

It was soon discovered that the pictures and videos were conveniently edited to push their narrative of police brutality and left out crucial facts that the police officer and another colleague were besieged and beaten by a mob of protesters before he drew a gun loaded with nonlethal beanbag rounds. The officer did not shoot.

The exposure of mob violence and manipulation of facts angered many in the city and on the mainland and prompted some to speak out in support of police officers in Hong Kong.

On the mainland, where many young people grew up watching Hong Kong crime movies and developed an admiration for Hong Kong police officers, many took to social media to express their anger toward the radical anti-government elements and foreign media. 

"The officers have been very restrained and professional. I express respect to the excellent Hong Kong police officers who have carried out their duty in spite of slander," one net user wrote on WeChat.

After seeing horrific pictures and videos of the officer being beaten to the ground and of his clearly injured eyes that were edited out in some Hong Kong and foreign media coverage, many took it emotionally.

"This is sad and outrageous for all police officers. I really sympathize with this officer, who was not only beaten by the people and was hurt again by public opinion which has been held hostage by foreign media," a female police officer in Southwest China's Yunnan Province told the Global Times on Thursday. She spoke on condition of anonymity.

Many were quick to point out that if similar riots happened in other countries including Western countries such as the US, police officers would have taken more aggressive and even lethal measures.  

"This is China's Hong Kong and they are Hong Kong police officers. Why care about distorted reports of the Western media?" another wrote, suggesting that officers bring their own photographers and "fire when they need to."

In Hong Kong where the narrative has been dominated by radical voices - and rational voices could result in retribution from the violent groups - many have also voiced support for the police force.

Angus Ng Hok Ming, a young Hong Kong resident, said that the police officers have behaved admirably responding to violent protests but "they have been constantly misunderstood, smeared as well as violently attacked."  

He said he saw videos of officers being splashed with corrosive substances and being beaten to bleed, and even though police officers have the ability to contain the situation, they did not want to hurt people.

Some in Hong Kong have directly expressed their appreciation and support to officers. 

A Hong Kong resident, who gave only her last name as Song, said that whenever she sees an officer on the street, she would go up to them and say a Chinese phrase meant to express gratitude: Sir or Madam, "You have worked very hard."

Praise for the Hong Kong police during the protests arrived from officers in countries such as India and the United Kingdom, which ruled Hong Kong more than 150 years until 1997.  

A police officer in Mumbai, India said that although peaceful protests are allowed, "resorting to violence in protests in any way could not be understood and tolerated by government." 

The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Global Times Thursday that officers could take forceful measures to maintain order if protesters violate the law.

An officer with the London Metropolitan Police Service also told the Global Times that the Hong Kong Police have behaved very "professionally." 

The officer, who also requested anonymity, said he did not understand why police officers were separated when they were attacked.

Strengthened confidence 

As support continued to pour in, some Hong Kong police officers said they were touched and vowed to do their job better to restore peace and order in the city and bring those who have broken the law to justice.

"Over the past couple of days, we have been moved by people in the mainland and the central government," Chan said.

In what is believed to be a rare show of public support for the police and a warning to Hong Kong rioters and their conspirators, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Garrison in Hong Kong and its commander, Chen Daoxiang, on Wednesday said the garrison firmly supports the Hong Kong police and the military stands ready to protect Hong Kong's stability. The message included a video which contained footage of soldiers conducting riot control exercises.

"We are truly encouraged," Chan said, noting that nonstop work hours, smear campaigns and even violent threats against them and their families have taken a physical and emotional toll. 

With the support of the public and the central government, the Hong Kong Police Force is confident it can bring all those who have broken the law to justice, Wilkie Ng Wai-kei, chief inspector at the Hong Kong Police Tactical Unit headquarters, told reporters on Thursday. 

To those criminals, Wilkie said "You will have to face justice. You cannot hide." 

Wilkie NG Wai-kei, chief inspector at the Hong Kong Police Tactical Unit headquarters. Photo: Chen Qingqing/GT

Outside the tall building in Wan Chai on Hong Kong island, tall barricades in blue and white were placed at the entrance to apparently stop violent protesters, but inside, letters of support and other tokens of appreciation were displayed in the halls.

"No matter how hard it is, as an important force in Hong Kong society ruled by law, we have to keep going. If we fail, there's no city at all," Chan said.

Yang Sheng and Zhao Yusha contributed to this story


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