The action came after an extremely violent day that saw police and students battling each other around the strategically located campus in Kowloon. Police threw tear gas and fired water cannons at the protesters.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on November 18, 2019

The tension between China and disenchanted young anti-government protesters that have brought parts of Hong Kong to a standstill for three months is now at or precariously close to a tipping point.

The demonstrations were triggered 24 weeks ago by the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill by the Hong Kong government.

Police riot squad officers have stormed the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where anti-government protesters have been defending themselves with petrol bombs, warning people to leave or face action for “taking part in a riot”. The scene resembles a war zone.

Hong Kong

The action came after an extremely violent day that saw police and students battling each other around the strategically located campus in Kowloon. Police threw tear gas and fired water cannons containing an irritant at the protesters.

Police told the South China Morning Post that dozens of people had been arrested at the campus, and hundreds of others were estimated to be inside. Mass arrests were expected.

Police said that most of the dangerous materials they had seized from arrested protesters over the past few days were stolen from the university’s laboratories.

The on-going crisis is reaching a point of no return because Hong Kong sank into recession for the first time in 10 years in the third quarter, government data confirmed, weighed down by increasingly violent anti-government protests and the escalating US-China trade war. The economy shrank by 3.2 percent in July-September from the previous quarter on a seasonally-adjusted basis, revised government data showed, in line with a preliminary reading.

The demonstrators changed tactics last week to a “Blossom Everywhere” campaign of blockades and vandalism that shut down large chunks of Hong Kong’s train network and forced schools and shopping malls to close. Students and protesters occupied several major universities around the city – the first time a movement characterised by its fluidity and unpredictability has coagulated in fixed locations.

The protesters at Polytechnic University had blocked one of Hong Kong’s major highways, the Cross Harbour Tunnel linking Hong Kong island to the Kowloon peninsula with authorities desperate to restore the link yet encountering tenacious resistance from the trapped activists.

A poster circulating on social media called for the “dawn action” to continue on Monday. “Get up early, directly target the regime, squeeze the economy to increase pressure,” it said.

China’s President Xi Jinping, in a rare comment on Hong Kong, said the continued unrest in Hong Kong had “seriously challenged” the “one country, two systems” principle governing the semi-autonomous city.