A Hong Kong police officer shot a teenage protester at close range as fierce clashes between authorities and pro-democracy activists broke out in several parts of the city on Tuesday.
- Police say the officer who shot the teenager was “under serious threat”
- Organisers said at least 100,000 people marched in Hong Kong, despite a security clampdown on the day of the Communist Party’s 70th anniversary celebrations
- Police officers also fired tear gas and used water cannons to push back protesters who threw gas bombs, bricks and other objects at authorities
While officers have previously fired warning shots in the air on multiple occasions during months of demonstrations in Hong Kong, this was the first time a protester is known to have been shot.
The single pistol shot fired by the officer as protesters swarmed toward him hit the 18-year-old on the left side of his shoulder, police spokeswoman Yolanda Yu said.
Police Commissioner Stephen Lo said the bullet hit the 18-year-old on the left side of his chest and defended the officer’s action as “reasonable and lawful”.
Hong Kong’s hospital authority said the teenager was one of two people in critical condition after another day of rioting, with a total of 51 people injured.
The violence challenging Chinese rule, the most widespread in Hong Kong yet, came as the Communist Party celebrated its 70th year in power.
PHOTO: Paramedics treating the 18-year-old before he was taken to hospital. (AFP)
Ms Yu said the 18-year-old had been shot after continuing to attack police despite their warnings.
“The police officers’ lives were under serious threat,” she said in a police video. “To save his own life and his colleagues’ lives, he fired a live shot at the assailant.”
But activist Nathan Law, a former legislator and founder of Hong Kong’s pro-self determination political party, said the shooting was “a case of murder”.
“The policeman was holding the gun and rushed at the crowd,” Mr Law told the ABC.
“Obviously he was not in a deadly situation, which would authorise him to shoot at the limbs [of the protester] — not the body.
“The way the policeman was shooting is absolutely unnecessary and violating all the protocol that they should abide by.”
Video which spread quickly on social media showed a dozen black-clad protesters hurling objects at a group of riot police and closing in on a lone officer who pointed his weapon and opened fire as the protester came at him with a baton.
There were other instances on Tuesday when officers also drew their weapons, including two with bloodied faces who pointed pistols as protesters and riot police fought fierce battles at multiple locations in the city.
Riot police fired multiple volleys of tear gas in at least six locations and used water cannon in the business district.
A security clampdown in the city to thwart violence that would embarrass Chinese President Xi Jinping failed to deter the protests, including a massive march in the city centre.
PHOTO: An anti-government protester throws away a tear gas cannister in the Sha Tin district. (Reuters: Jorge Silva)
Thousands of people confronted police in multiple locations across the city, the largest number of simultaneous protests since the unrest began in early June over a now-shelved extradition bill that activists say was an example of how Hong Kong’s freedoms and citizen rights are being eroded.
The movement has since snowballed into an anti-China campaign with demands for direct elections for the city’s leaders and police accountability.
Organisers said at least 100,000 people marched along a broad city thoroughfare in defiance of a police ban, chanting anti-China slogans and some carrying Chinese flags defaced with a black cross. Police did not provide an estimate of the turnout.
Many demonstrators tossed wads of fake “hell” banknotes usually used at funerals into the air.
PHOTO: Riot police fired tear gas to disperse pro-democracy protesters. (AP: Felipe Dana)
The smell of stinging tear gas and smoke from street fires started by protesters engulfed the Wan Chai, Wong Tai Sin, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun, Tsuen Wan and Tsim Sha Tsui areas.
Protesters hurled petrol bombs, bricks and other objects at police, who responded with volleys of tear gas.
Protesters used umbrellas as shields and threw tear gas canisters back at police. Police said protesters used corrosive fluid in Tuen Mun, injuring officers and some reporters.
PHOTO: Officers say they were hit by a corrosive liquid thrown by protesters. (Supplied: Hong Kong Police Force)
In Wong Tai Sin, a petrol bomb that protesters hurled at police exploded near motorcycles parked along a pavement, creating a large blaze that was put out by firefighters.
Some protesters placed an emergency water hose down a subway station to try to flood it.
A water cannon truck sprayed blue water, used to identify protesters, to disperse crowds from advancing towards government offices.
Scores of police officers also stood guard near Beijing’s liaison office as the battles continued across the territory.
PHOTO: In Hong Kong hundreds of protesters clashed with police. (Reuters: Susana Vera)
“Today we are out to tell the Communist Party that Hong Kong people have nothing to celebrate,” said activist Lee Cheuk-yan as he led the downtown march.
Activists carried banners saying, “End dictatorial rule, return power to the people”.
The popular LIHKG online chat forum used by protesters was inaccessible on mobile phones, a move believed to have been made to prevent communication by protesters.
More than two dozen subway stations and many shopping malls across the city were shut.
PHOTO: This police officer was hit by pepper spray during a clash in Wan Chai district. (Reuters: Susana Vera)
The protests contrasted with Beijing’s anniversary festivities, which were marked with a colourful parade and display of new missile technology. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is in Beijing for the ceremony, smiled as a Hong Kong float passed by.
Anniversary marked with military show
Mr Xi declared that “no force” can shake China as he oversaw the huge military parade.
About 15,000 troops along with tanks, new nuclear missiles and a supersonic drone paraded down the Avenue of Eternal Peace s Mr Xi and other Communist Party leaders watched from a rostrum overlooking Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
The event was meant to extol China’s journey from a poor nation broken by war to the world’s second-largest economy, but Mr Xi faces a clutch of challenges from a US trade war to months of unrest in Hong Kong.
Mr Xi, who wore the distinctive “Mao suit”, delivered a speech invoking the “Chinese dream” of national rejuvenation — his grand vision of restoring the country to perceived past glory.
PHOTO: Mr Xi delivered a speech invoking the “Chinese dream”. (Reuters: Thomas Peter)
“There is no force that can shake the foundation of this great nation,” he said from the Tiananmen rostrum where Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.
“No force that can stop the Chinese people and the Chinese nation forging ahead.”
PHOTO: China has also shown off what’s claimed to be the world’s longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile, the Dongfeng 41 (DF-41). (AP: Ng Han Guan)
Helicopters flew in a “70” formation over the city as troops goosestepped across Tiananmen Square in what state media described as the country’s biggest-ever military parade, featuring 580 pieces of armament and 160 aircraft.
The People’s Liberation Army brought out its newest hardware including the DF-41, a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile with range enough to reach the entire United States, and the DF-17, a launcher for a hypersonic glider.
PHOTO: China marked the 70th anniversary of its founding with a military parade. (Reuters / Jason Lee )
Warplanes including the J-20 stealth fighter soared through the smog-choked skies, and state media said a high-altitude, high-speed reconnaissance drone made a public appearance for the first time.
“The party hopes that this occasion will add to its legitimacy and rally support at a time of internal and external challenges,” Adam Ni, China researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, said.
Xi‘s words ‘won’t reassure everyone’
In his speech, Mr Xi said China “must adhere” to the one country, two systems policy governing Hong Kong and “maintain the long-term prosperity and stability” of the city.
He also called for the “peaceful development” of relations with Taiwan — the self-governed island that Beijing considers a renegade province — but said China should “continue to fight for the full reunification of the country.”
Mr Xi’s words on Hong Kong “won’t, of course, reassure everyone but it shows the limits within which Beijing wants to operate vis-a-vis Hong Kong in the future, in spite of its increasing interference in local affairs,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, professor of political science at Hong Kong Baptist University.
The Beijing festivities were held under tight security, with road closures and even a ban on flying kites.
PHOTO: Despite a police ban, thousands marched through Hong Kong. (Reuters: Athit Perawongmetha)
The military show of force was followed by a pageant involving 100,000 civilians and 70 floats depicting China’s greatest achievements.
A giant portrait of Mao, followed by those of past leaders and Mr Xi, streamed across the avenue as the President and other officials waved.
Replicas of a space rocket, a homegrown passenger plane and high-speed trains were followed by smiling ethnic minorities — imagery that glosses over accusations of human rights abuses in the frontier regions of Tibet and Xinjiang.
PHOTO: The parade featured a giant portrait of Mao, followed by those of past leaders and Mr Xi. (Reuters: Thomas Peter)