Police Call Weekend Unrest a ‘Catastrophe’: Hong Kong Update

Police Call Weekend Unrest a ‘Catastrophe’: Hong Kong Update(Bloomberg) — China reaffirmed its support for Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s government to handle Hong Kong’s unrest, after a weekend of street clashes and travel disruptions that police described as a “catastrophe.”Police over the weekend held running battles with protesters after tens of thousands joined an unauthorized march on Saturday, and efforts on Sunday to interfere with traffic to and from the airport prompted some travelers to walk down the highway pushing luggage. Student groups have planned class boycotts and rallies to mark the start of the new school year.“The Chinese central government supports Chief Executive Carrie Lam to lead the SAR government in administering in according to law, and also supports the Hong Kong police to stop the riots and restore order in accordance with law,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a briefing Monday, referring to the special administrative region.The protests began in June over a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China before morphing into a wider push against Beijing’s grip on the city. The unrest in the Asian financial hub threatens to distract from China’s celebrations of the Oct. 1 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule.Key Developments:China reaffirms support for local governmentMorning commute mostly smooth; students gather in afternoonGovernment defends police actions, condemns flag-burningSome 159 arrested over weekend, police say Travelers were stranded on Sunday after protesters disrupted transport optionsMTR stock falls after demonstrators vandalized stationsHere’s the latest (all times local):‘Hong Kong had a catastrophe’ (4:09 p.m.)Hong Kong police officials condemned the action of radical protesters over the weekend, who they accused of throwing more than 100 petrol bombs at various points around the city. “Hong Kong had a catastrophe over the weekend,” Mak Chin-ho, assistant commissioner of police for operations, told a daily briefing Monday. “The behavior of the rioters is like a plague. They have lost their rational minds.” Some other takeaways from the police briefing:159 arrests, suspects aged 13 to 5816 were charged with rioting1,117 people arrested since June 9 Police fired 241 tear gas rounds, 92 rubber bulletsLawyers urge compromise (3:53 p.m.)The Hong Kong Bar Association urged the government to address the “the frustration felt by the general public about its continued silence” amid “strong demands for constructive engagement to resolve the current crisis.” The group called for a response to public’s demands for a complete withdrawal of the extradition that prompted the protests establish an independent commission of inquiry.Protesters hold afternoon rallies (2:59 p.m.)Black-clad demonstrators joined rallies at Tamar Park in downtown Hong Kong and at Chinese University of Hong Kong, marking the first day of the start of the school year with class boycotts and strikes.Government won’t rule out emergency law (12:21 p.m.)Hong Kong’s No. 2 official Matthew Cheung wouldn’t rule out imposing an emergency law to help police contain protests that have led to increased violence since they began in June.“We are reviewing comprehensively with an open attitude on what could be used,” Cheung told reporters on Monday when asked whether the government would use an emergency law, adding that any actions would need to be “reasonable.” He was repeating comments made last week by Lam about the sweeping colonial-era law, which allows for easier arrests, deportations, censorship and property seizures.“Once calm’s restored, society’s back to normal, then we can go forward,” Cheung said. “Law and order must be restored ASAP, without further ado. No nonsense. We are all yearning for law and order.”Police exercising ‘strong restraint’: Lee (11:59 a.m.)Public Security Secretary John Lee praised the police force as “Asia’s finest” and said officers have exercised “strong restraint” in the face of attacks from protesters. The demonstrators have sought an independent inquiry into accusations of excessive force by police, including indiscriminate beatings in a subway station over the weekend.Normal to deploy police in subway: Chan (11:32 a.m.)It’s normal for authorities to deploy police in subway stations when necessary, Frank Chan, secretary for transport and housing, told reporters on Monday. He said a third of all MTR stations were damaged on Saturday, and on Sunday 25 flights were canceled and another 200 were delayed.Top official slams flag-burning, seeks talks (11:24 a.m.)Cheung condemned the violence over the weekend, particularly the burning of the Chinese national flag, and said the government would continue its push for dialogue.Speaking to reporters on Monday along with other key members ofLam’s administration, Cheung said the government would ensure those who broke the law during intense weekend clashes would be arrested.“Stopping the violence is the top priority,” said Cheung, Hong Kong‘s chief secretary. The burning of the national flag on Sunday “challenged the authority of the country and the bottom line of one country, two systems.”MTR shares decline (9:43 a.m.)Hong Kong subway operator MTR Corp.’s shares extended declines as services were disrupted and after facilities at several stations were damaged during protests over the weekend. The stock fell as much as 3% to trade at the lowest level since February.China to hold briefing Tuesday (9:38 a.m.)China’s State Council Information Office will hold a press conference on Tuesday at 3 p.m. on the current situation in Hong Kong, according to a statement. Yang Guang and Xu Luying, spokespeople for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, will attend the press briefing.China warns ‘end is coming’ (9:30 a.m.)In a harshly-worded editorial commentary issued during last night’s clashes, China’s state-owned Xinhua News Agency warned “the end is coming for those attempting to disrupt Hong Kong and antagonize China.” The editorial condemned the use of petrol bombs, praised police for making sweeping arrests and said attempts to use Hong Kong to “infiltrate and undermine the mainland” were bound to fail.“Behind the violence and chaos in Hong Kong is an elaborate scheme of the rioters and their patrons whose real intent is clearly exposed now,” the editorial said. “They tried to stir up unrest in Hong Kong and compromise the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, before spreading the ‘color revolution’ into the Chinese mainland.”Lam thanks MTR staff (9:19 a.m.)In a Facebook post, Lam thanked the MTR staff for their professionalism in returning all stations to normal service in time for the commute a day after vandals damaged key infrastructure.Extra traveling time required (8:15 a.m.)The MTR said that extra traveling time was required on the Tsuen Wan and Kwun Tong subway lines. Earlier, it said that all subway lines would be operational despite vandalism on Sunday that damaged infrastructure.Subway stations damaged (11:30 p.m. Sunday)Hong Kong’s subway operator said facilities at 32 of its stations were “severely damaged” amid the protest, with some of these locations staying shut on Monday. Glass windows of station control rooms, ticket issuing machines, gates and security cameras were among items damaged over the weekend, MTR said.Police arrests (6:18 p.m. Sunday)Police arrested 63 people — 54 men and nine women — in train stations in Kowloon on Saturday night, Acting Senior Superintendent of Kowloon West Tsui Suk Yee said at a press conference. The youngest person held was 13 years old, she said. Petrol bombs, laser pens and helmets were confiscated and those arrested face charges including possession of weapons and unlawful assembly, according to the police. Two trains were damaged by demonstrators, she said.Tung Chung line suspended (6:05 p.m. Sunday)MTR, operator of Hong Kong’s rail service, suspended train services on its Tung Chung and Disneyland Resort lines. Police said protesters damaged turnstiles, CCTV cameras and broke windows in the customer service station at the Tung Chung train station. The demonstrators blocked roads in the area and set fire to barricades, according to a police statement.Airport train service suspended (4:45 p.m. Sunday)MTR suspended its airport express train service in both directions, saying someone was trespassing on a track near the Airport Station.Riot police move in (3 p.m. Sunday)Riot police moved to disperse crowds of protesters around the airport building and in the public transport areas. Demonstrators built barricades of rubbish skips in roads into and out of the facility, and prevented buses from leaving the terminus.Crowds of people walked along the highway toward the airport after buses and train service to the facility was canceled.Airport protests (1 p.m. Sunday)Protesters vandalized turnstiles at train stations to the airport and spray-painted graffiti as crowds gathered to try to disrupt transport to the facility, where people had massed outside. MTR suspended service of express trains to the airport.\–With assistance from Natalie Lung, Annie Lee, Justin Chin and Fion Li.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at dtenkate@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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