HK rioters ruin Christmas Eve

By Xu Keyue Source:Global Times Published: 2019/12/24 23:48:41

Residents, businesses suffer due to instability

Rioters set fire to Central subway station in Hong Kong. Photo: GT

Hong Kong rioters descended on the streets on Christmas Eve vandalizing traffic and public facilities, as residents and business owners endured the gloomy aura of the festival due to worsened business and security environment in the city.

Rioters set fire at Mong Kok metro station and a nearby HSBC branch Tuesday night and clashed with police officers on the streets.

The police restrained several rioters in Harbor City, a shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui, and a security guard was injured in the clashes with violent protesters in Mong Kok.

Rioters caused traffic congestion with vehicles stranded in Tsim Sha Tsui. Police were forced to fire tear gas to disperse the rioters. A water cannon and two armored vehicles arrived in Tsim Sha Tsui at late night.

Police also quickly responded to reports of the vandalization of shops in Yoho Mall II. 

Earlier in the day, police were deployed to quell untoward violence and Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung patrolled the streets at Tsim Sha Tsui. 

Residents reached by Global Times on Tuesday said that unlike previous years when they used to go out for dinner, shopping, and revel in amusement parks, no such activities were on the card this year.

A mainlander surnamed Wu, who has worked in Hong Kong for five years, told the Global Times he wouldn't hang out with friends on the evening of Christmas Eve. His company office is located near Tsim Sha Tsui, a promenade near the city's iconic Victoria Harbor, where large numbers of people traditionally congregate during the festival to savor Christmas lights. 

"Although Christmas decorations are visible in the district, the crowds are not the same as previous years," Wu said. 

"I will directly go back home and celebrate the festival with friends indoors because we don't want to take any security risk," he noted.

According to reports on Monday, online forums of protesters were filled with messages asking demonstrators to gather in various malls in the evening. 

Hong Kong Police Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung on Tuesday evening visited the Tsim Sha Tsui district where rioters had planned to assemble and participate in other activities, local media outlet reported.

According to the police investigation, certain individuals had planned to use lethal force in crowded places on Christmas Eve, including shooting from a height with long range firearms and detonating explosive in crowds. The victims would most likely be common Hong Kong residents leading to disastrous consequences.

Some people from the catering sector told the Global Times their businesses were severely hit as the potential radical protests cast a shadow on the industry. 

"We only received a dozen reservations for tonight, half the amount of last year," an employee of a local restaurant located in Tsim Sha Tsui told the Global Times on Tuesday.

An employee of a seafood restaurant in the district said "We are losing money and may have to close the restaurant sooner or later." 

Residents said the festive atmosphere this year is worse than previous due to the unrest but they still hope to celebrate Christmas peacefully. 

The director of Lan Kwai Fong Association, a non-profit business community located in the Lan Kawai Fong, a street known for catering houses, said on Tuesday only half of the seats of the restaurants along the street were reserved, though the number of reservations for lunch is slightly better, local media reported. 

During months-long protests, dozens of restaurants have shut down, more than the time of SARS epidemic, which triggered an economic meltdown in 2003, according to industry association Eating Establishment Employees General Union.


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