Rioters descend into Hong Kong streets

By Chen Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2019/12/9 1:03:39

Violent and illegal acts still occur as radicals set fires to two courts

Photo: Screengrab of

Black-clad protesters descended into Hong Kong streets again on Sunday as a rally organized by the opposition groups was permitted by the police. Although it was generally peaceful as the local government claimed, violent and illegal acts still occurred, culminating in rioters setting fires at two courts in the city. 

Sunday's protest occurred as Hong Kong Police Chief Chris Tang Ping-keung returned to Hong Kong after a short visit to Beijing. Scheduled meetings with high-level officials indicated that Hong Kong Police would be resolved to crack down on violence and rioting. 

Protesters gathered at Victoria Park around 2 pm on Sunday afternoon, one day before the Human Rights Day to march toward Central, Hong Kong's central business district, as the Civil Human Rights Front received the first letter of no-objection to hold a rally for the first time in four months. 

Around 6 pm, groups of black-clad protesters at Central refused to leave following the rally, and began using umbrellas as makeshift "shields" to confront riot police. Rioters also set fires at the entrance of the High Court and the Court of Final Appeal. 

The Department of Justice of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) later said setting such fires in front of the courts not only seriously disrupted social order but also damaged the city's reputation as a law-based city. Those who committed to such illegal behavior could be sentenced to a life term in jail, it added. 

The HKSAR government said Sunday's protest was generally peaceful, but some violent and illegal acts still occurred, especially individuals setting fires in front of courts, which is unacceptable for a society ruled by law. 

Ahead of the rally, Hong Kong police arrested 11 people and seized weaponry including a pistol with 105 live bullets, explosives, bullet-proof jackets and knives. It also said that those weapons would be used in the protest on Sunday, citing police intelligence, according to a statement it sent to the Global Times. This was the first time a gun has been seized during the six months of protests. 

"Seizing a pistol showed that Hong Kong police had obtained important intelligence, showing that it's capable of ending violence and rioting," Joe Chan Cho-kwong, former chairman of the Junior Police Officers' Association, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Months of protests, which have been escalating into rioting and squalor, have ravaged the city, leading it into unprecedented violence. However, the latest visit of the Hong Kong police chief to Beijing further strengthened the police force's confidence in enforcing the law to end violence.


'Hard & soft' approach against rioters 

Hong Kong Police Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung flied back to Hong Kong on Sunday to oversee police deployment after he wrapped up the two-day visit to Beijing. 

During his stay in Beijing, senior officials from the central government met with Tang, reflecting that Beijing firmly supports Hong Kong police to enforce the law to end rioting. There have smooth mechanisms in place regarding police cooperation between the mainland and Hong Kong, analysts said. 

Guo Shengkun, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, met with Tang, on Saturday in Beijing. Guo highly praised Hong Kong police for fulfilling duties during months of social unrest. He also affirmed support for the police to continue strictly enforcing the law to end violence and criminal activity. 

Zhao Kezhi, Public Security Minister also met with Tang, expressing the hope for Hong Kong police to keep high morale and act with determination in ending violence and chaos as soon as possible. Tang also met Zhang Xiaoming, Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, during which Tang talked about the Hong Kong situation and his strategy to use both "hard and soft approaches" in dealing with violence, according to media reports. 

Some Hong Kong residents said they hold high expectations for Tang's approaches, as he has been playing the role of the "tough guy" in dealing with rioters. Analysts said his recent trip to Beijing sent out a clear message that the central authorities and Hong Kong will cooperate closely in monitoring the situation in Hong Kong, and Beijing will always firmly back Hong Kong police in law enforcement.

"Before, meetings between the Hong Kong police chief and high-level public security officials in Beijing were sensitive, which had been merely exposed by the media. But this time, it clearly indicated that the central authorities and Hong Kong maintain close cooperation in handling chaos and violence in Hong Kong," Li Xiaobing, an expert on Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan at Nankai University, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

"This has also a deterrent effect to external forces that meddle in Hong Kong," he said, noting that police cooperation between the mainland and Hong Kong would become more regular. 

When talking about "hard and soft approaches," former police officers said that Tang would adopt more flexible ways in dealing with ongoing social unrest. "On one hand, police sent out a no-objection letter to Sunday's protest, on the other, it pays close attention to it. Once violence is back to streets, police officers would curb it immediately with strong determination," Chan said.


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