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Hong Kong’s Lam to Meet Officials in Beijing Amid Protests

Hong Kong’s Lam to Meet Officials in Beijing Amid Protests(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong’s besieged leader arrived in Beijing for meetings with senior Chinese officials seeking to end pro-democracy protests that have raged for more than six months.Chief Executive Carrie Lam, whose administration has been fiercely criticized for its handling of the unrest, arrived at a hotel in Beijing around noon on Saturday for an annual visit, according to RTHK. Her trip comes shortly after an estimated 800,000 people took to the streets in a demonstration, and follows a landslide victory by opposition pro-democracy parties over Lam and her pro-establishment allies in local elections.“The purpose of the duty visit is to give a full account of what has happened in Hong Kong over the past year,” Lam said in a press briefing on Dec. 10. “Particularly what has happened in Hong Kong in the last six months.”Protests have gripped Asia’s premier financial hub since June, when large crowds took to the streets to oppose a bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. Although Lam’s government eventually withdrew the proposed law, the protesters’ demands have broadened to include universal suffrage and the setting up of an independent inquiry into police conduct during the increasing violent unrest.Beijing TalksThroughout the chaos, China has steadfastly supported Lam, even as her popularity in the former British colony sunk to record lows. Chinese officials have condemned the protesters and voiced their backing for the city’s police.Lam’s conversations in Beijing will also focus on how Hong Kong and the central government can cooperate on national-level plans including China’s global Belt and Road infrastructure strategy and integrating the city into a so-called Greater Bay Area with nearby mainland cities, she said.(Update in from first paragraph to add that Lam arrived in Beijing on Saturday)To contact the reporter on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Stanley James, Russell WardFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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After six months and a siege, Hong Kong’s front line takes stock

After six months and a siege, Hong Kong’s front line takes stockHong Kong’s protests saw a dramatic November, with a campus siege and local elections. A protester takes stock at the six-month mark.



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Hong Kong’s ‘Frontliners’ Say They’re Ready to Die for the Movement

Hong Kong’s ‘Frontliners’ Say They’re Ready to Die for the Movement(Bloomberg) — Fung, a 24-year-old doctor, seems an unlikely candidate to stand on the front line of Hong Kong’s most violent civil unrest in half a century. Before this year, he never took part in a protest, and during Hong Kong’s last major pro-democracy uprising, the 2014 Umbrella Movement, he only stopped by to take photos.Now, Fung is part of a cell of 20 protesters who face off each weekend against police on the streets of Hong Kong in clashes that have escalated from peaceful marches to flying bricks, tear gas, Molotov cocktails and, more recently, live ammunition fired into the sky. Fung, who acquired bullet-resistant body armor to wear under his black T-shirt, says the violence needs to escalate even further if protesters are to persuade Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam — and her backers in Beijing — to accede to their demands.“If you can’t give pressure to police, the police won’t give any stress to Carrie Lam,” Fung said in an interview in his home. “We, the frontliners, always lose when facing those police. We never win.” He shows his armored vest. “Maybe someone will die next week. I hope the one getting shot is me, since I got this. But not all the frontliners have this to protect them.”Fung’s willingness to accept a potentially bloody escalation and his belief that the movement will ultimately succeed show that the weeks of clashes have created a hard core of determined teams of protesters whose tactics are shifting as clashes become militarized. Fung, like others interviewed for this story, declined to be quoted by their full name for fear of arrest in a city where merely participating in an unauthorized protest could mean years in prison.The front-line protesters’ hardhats, gas masks and black clothing have become the movement’s uniform, lionized in street art and internet memes. But their hard-line tactics have also divided the former British colony: More moderate protesters credit them with forcing concessions from a recalcitrant government, while Chinese officials denounce them as “rioters,” showing signs of terrorism.Even some opposition leaders warn that the radicals risk alienating support from investors and citizens inconvenienced and endangered by the chaos. More extreme tactics, including smashing train station windows, attacking police officers with batons and lighting bonfires in the streets have helped damage Hong Kong’s reputation as one of Asia’s safest big cities.After some hard-line demonstrators detained and beat two men they suspected of being undercover cops during a protest at the airport last month, some activists circulated a proposed code of conduct for front-line protesters, including no beating medical personnel or journalists, on social media forums.Police have escalated, as well, deploying tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons and, one night last month, pointing their fire arms at a larger crowd of protesters who were attacking them with sticks. Lam told reporters earlier this week that it was “remarkable” that no one had died, although many protesters blame the government for suicides among demonstrators and are suspicious that authorities are withholding information on other serious injuries.Although the protests have tapered off in recent weeks, tensions could flare again as Hong Kong confronts two politically fraught dates: The fifth anniversary of the Occupy movement Saturday and the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on Tuesday. Both occasions — one the government would like to forget and other it plans to celebrate — will be marked by protests just the same.One of the key principles of the movement has been to abandon their roadblocks once police move in — summed up in the slogan “Be water.” But Fung argues that there need to be more protesters who will stand their ground and fight back. “Why don’t you give a fight?” he said.Such fearlessness is not universal.“You have to know when to run and when to fight,” said Vincent, a 26-year-old designer who first joined political protests in Hong Kong at the start of the Umbrella Movement, the last major pro-democracy movement in the city. “You can’t stand face-to-face against the police.” Asked how he responds when police move in to attack, he laughed. “Run faster!”Vincent and Fung are part of separate teams, highlighting the leaderless nature of the current wave of protests, which have continued since June, despite more than 1,500 arrests. Those arrests have included high-profile pro-democracy figures such as Joshua Wong, leading some protesters to wonder whether the police are trying to identify leaders where there aren’t any.“I agree with the small-group strategy,” said Vincent. “Every time there is a leader, the leader gets arrested.”Vincent and Fung reveal a highly decentralized structure, where groups of about 20 protesters operate independently, yet share information and often copy each other’s tactics. When a proposal is made between groups for violent action, the key principle is respect for others’ decisions, Fung said.“If it really works, maybe we’ll follow you. That’s the most important principle in this movement,” Fung said. “If someone sees, ‘O.K., when I throw the Molotovs, the police really step back — it’s useful. Why don’t we make more?’ It’s why you see more and more Molotovs in the front line.”Police said on Sept. 2 that at least 100 petrol bombs had been used by protesters on the previous Saturday. Two days later, Lam announced her intention to formally withdraw the contentious extradition bill that originally sparked the protests.The move did little to reduce the unrest. The following weekend the subway station in the city’s central business district became a target for arson and another 80 petrol bombs were thrown, according to police.Although police have arrested hundreds of protesters, including some on a strict rioting charge that carries a sentence as long as 10 years, many end up back on the street while awaiting trial. Only 14% of those arrested had undergone judicial proceedings.Protesters have elevated their injured members into martyrs, including a woman who was allegedly struck on Aug. 11 by a police bean-bag round that penetrated her goggles and injured her right eye. Initial reports said she lost the eye, although the South China Morning Post newspaper later reported, citing a hospital source, that she retains at least some some sight in it.“‘Eye for an eye’ is not just a slogan,” Vincent said. “It will have to be a fact to frighten the police.”Like other demonstrators, Fung’s journey from passive bystander to frontline protester was triggered by the escalating violence. He said he only became a frontliner after July 21, when TV footage showed passengers at a train station being attacked by white-shirted mobs, with no apparent help coming from the police,“We can’t accept this; white-shirt gangsters hitting people,” Fung said. “And I can’t accept why police” delayed for 39 minutes.Police later defended the delay in responding to emergency calls as a consequence of their limited resources that night, given the large-scale protest that was ongoing in another district of Hong Kong.In more recent weeks, Chinese authorities have attempted to distinguish between more moderate protesters who mustered hundreds of thousands to march peaceful and the “few thugs” who adopt the frontliners’ tactics. Protesters see the shift as part of a “divide and rule” strategy, assuming that people will eventually tire of the radicals and turn against them.But the do or die attitude of frontliners like Fung and Vincent is based on a feeling that this could be the endgame for Hong Kong’s democratic struggle.“The failure of the Umbrella Revolution gave some kind of lesson,” Vincent said. “Everyone knows if you fail this time, there will not be another chance. That’s why Hong Kongers fight like they’re not afraid, because they realize that if they fail, the only thing waiting for them is worse than death.”After guns were pointed at the protesters in Tsuen Wan, Fung decided to buy body armor. He insists that the movement must go on until the five demands are met, but acknowledges that he has written a will.“I have already prepared to die in this movement,” he said.To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Mc Nicholas in Hong Kong at amcnicholas2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Adam MajendieFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam Urges Protesters to Let Town Hall Event Go Forward

Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam Urges Protesters to Let Town Hall Event Go Forward(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam called on protesters not to disrupt her first public dialogue event, as she attempted to quiet months of protests that threaten to mar Beijing’s anniversary celebrations.The Hong Kong chief executive told reporters Tuesday that about 20,000 people have registered for a town hall-style session that will hold about 150 participants, after Asia’s main financial hub saw its 16th straight weekend of clashes between pro-democracy protesters and riot cops. At one point over the weekend, demonstrators threw debris onto a car carrying the city’s top official for mainland affairs, cracking the windshield.“I very much hope the first dialogue with community on Thursday could be made in a peaceful, rational and calm environment,” Lam said, referring to an event planned at an indoor stadium in the city’s Wan Chai area. “And my colleagues and I will listen to citizens’ opinions in a sincere, humble manner.”Lam’s comments come ahead of protests planned to coincide with the Oct. 1 anniversary of 70 years of Communist rule in China next week, which will feature a military parade and a speech from President Xi Jinping. Hong Kong has been paralyzed since June by near-daily — and sometimes violent protests — sparked by a bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.Lam scrapped the measure, but protesters have continued marching in a movement that has expanded to include demands for an inquiry into the violence as well as greater democratic accountability. Protesters have rejected her attempts at dialogue efforts, because she has ruled out meeting their other demands.The Hong Kong leader continued to defend police actions, noting that there have been no confirmed fatalities between protesters and police. “Apart from some critical incidents, where members of the public have major concerns and some different views, the fact that over three months, we have not seen major fatalities in Hong Kong is — by world standards, because I’ve been meeting overseas dignitaries and senior officials — is quite remarkable,” Lam said.Last week, Amnesty International issued a report that said Hong Kong police beat pro-democracy protesters in custody and committed acts that amounted to “torture” during the course of recent demonstrations. Police said the Amnesty report didn’t reflect the fact that officers were facing a large group of radical protesters who “broke the law recklessly,” and said it lacked details that would allow them to verify the allegations.On Tuesday, Lam said the “the force is under extreme pressure” from the protests, but that people should come forward with complaints about police conduct, so that incidents can be investigated.Meanwhile, opposition lawmaker Roy Kwong was punched and beaten by three men in the city’s Tin Shui Wai area this morning and is on his way to the hospital, according to Lam Cheuk-ting, a lawmaker from the Democratic Party.\–With assistance from Natalie Lung.To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.net;Stephen Tan in Hong Kong at ztan39@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Fion LiFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Hong Kong’s Joshua Wong Visits Taiwan to Meet With Ruling Party

Hong Kong’s Joshua Wong Visits Taiwan to Meet With Ruling Party(Bloomberg) — Leading Hong Kong pro-democracy activists including Joshua Wong arrived in Taiwan for a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen’s ruling party, just days after Taipei denied playing a role in Hong Kong’s unrest.Wong was scheduled to meet with Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Cho Jung-tai on Tuesday, as well as representatives of the pro-independence New Power Party, before giving a talk in the evening. The 22-year-old Demosisto party secretary general was accompanied by Hong Kong lawmaker Eddie Chu and former student leader Lester Shum.Wong — the subject of a Netflix documentary titled “Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower” — said in a Facebook post he was in Taiwan to arrange what he called a “large-scale gathering” to show support for Hong Kong. “A large display of support for Hong Kong by the Taiwanese public, showing the Chinese Communist Party the unity between the peoples of Taiwan and Hong Kong, would give us a huge amount of strength,” Wong said.Tsai, whose DPP supports independence, has stepped up her criticism of Beijing as the Hong Kong protests fuel new skepticism about unification with China. Her critiques have led Chinese officials to list Taiwan, along with the U.S. and the U.K., among the “black hands” it says are behind almost three months of historic protests.Wong was among several Hong Kong activists arrested last week in a crackdown on protest leaders condemned by Tsai. Earlier Tuesday, Wong said another Demosisto leader, Ivan Lam, was detained by authorities at Hong Kong’s airport. Wong was released on bail shortly after his arrest.On Saturday, Sun Yafu, vice president of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, accused Tsai of taking advantage of the unrest to undercut the idea of Hong Kong-style autonomy for the island. Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council later dismissed the claims as “nonsense.”To contact the reporter on this story: Samson Ellis in Taipei at sellis29@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Adrian KennedyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Hong Kong’s Leader Says She Has Never Asked Beijing’s Permission to Resign

Hong Kong’s Leader Says She Has Never Asked Beijing’s Permission to Resign(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said she had never asked China for permission to resign over the historic unrest rocking the city, while acknowledging that she discussed her struggles in a closed-door meeting with business leaders.At a news briefing Tuesday in Hong Kong, Lam denounced the leak of audio from the meeting, which was reported late Monday by Reuters, as “unacceptable.” She said was committed to seeing the city through the unrest, and had only attempted to explain that it would be “an easy choice” for anyone to leave under such circumstances.“I have never tendered a resignation to the central people’s government,” Lam told reporters. “I have not even contemplated to discuss a resignation with the central people’s government. The choice of not resigning is my own choice.”The comments follow a fresh wave of pro-democracy protests, including clashes in which demonstrators hurled scores of petrol bombs and police responded with tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets. The unrest began almost three months ago, when hundreds of thousands of people turned out to oppose Lam’s now-suspended proposal to allow extraditions to mainland China.Lam has so far refused the protesters’ demands, including the formal withdrawal of the legislation, her resignation and an independent inquiry into the unrest. Lam told a closed door meeting of business people last week that she had caused “unforgivable havoc,” and would quit if she had a choice, Reuters reported late Monday, citing an audio tape of her remarks.Lam’s news conference came ahead of a planned briefing from the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, China’s top body governing the city, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. At a previous briefing, the office’s spokesman warned protesters that “Those who play with fire will perish by it.”As protests drag on, Lam — a career bureaucrat appointed to lead the territory by Beijing — has found herself under increasingly intense pressure. Hong Kong’s leader is effectively squeezed between raucous local protesters pushing for greater democratic freedoms and the President Xi Jinping’s one-party government, which is trying to quell the protests while managing a trade war with the U.S.\–With assistance from Venus Feng.To contact the reporter on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Daniel Ten KateFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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‘Triad’ Thugs Use Clubs to Punish Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Protesters. But That’s Not Gonna Stop Them.

‘Triad’ Thugs Use Clubs to Punish Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Protesters. But That’s Not Gonna Stop Them.ReutersHONG KONG—Arthur Shek, the co-founder of a financial newspaper here called the Hong Kong Economic Times, took the stage Saturday at an event called “Safeguard HK” to support the police. Pro-democracy protesters have been hitting the streets for seven weeks straight, even briefly seizing the legislature, and Shek compared the demonstrators to spoiled brats. Shek called on anyone who might be listening to use rattan sticks and PVC pipes to beat young people and “educate” them. Behind the stage backdrop was a boat with a banner that read “Stop the violence, stride forward with Hong Kong.” At the time, amid elated cheers, the irony was lost on the crowd.Then attacks actually happened.On Sunday in a neighborhood called Yuen Long, far from the scene of the day’s protests, dozens of masked men and women dressed in white shirts were waiting with sticks by the turnstiles at a train station, ready to assault any people they thought were protesters (who often wore black). They even battered unrelated passers-by, including families with children who were just trying to get home.The massive protests in Hong Kong over the last two months, sometimes involving millions of people, initially were prompted by a plan by the city’s chief executive to introduce a law that would provide cover for politically motivated extradition to mainland China. Since then, popular demands have grown but been consistent: a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, a retraction of the government’s label of protests as “riots,” the release of those who have been arrested, an inquiry into recent police conduct, and universal suffrage.Desperate Xi Jinping Needs a Win in Hong Kong After Mass ProtestsIt is fair to say that Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party do not have a solid plan to grapple with these developments in Hong Kong—or even a long-term strategy for integration. Few on either side of the border still have faith in the “one country, two systems” governance plan that was meant to define how Hong Kong’s political and economic systems would function after 1997, when the city’s sovereignty was returned from Britain to the CCP. Even gradual assimilation into mainland China’s governance has been met with extreme resistance in Hong Kong.But the attacks in Yuen Long show how Beijing can tighten the screws in the city. On the surface, this appears as a domestic matter, with Hongkongers assaulting Hongkongers. It has already led to a division in the city; what you wear reflects what your ideals are or where your allegiance lies. The same goes for where you shop, because many business groups in Hong Kong maintain tight relations with governmental bodies in mainland China.With severe control of how information flows into mainland China, Xi and the CCP don’t need to worry about the protests in Hong Kong inspiring widespread insurrection in the country. Rather, Hongkongers worry about what the eventual snapback may be. But that unease is only giving fuel to their actions and clashes with the police every few days. It’s one of the few ways in which they can still express their political views—and their rage against a political machine from which they are largely excluded.Many videos of the incident in Yuen Long have been posted on Twitter, Facebook, and shared through other social networks and messaging apps.Police officers were seen walking away from the scene before the lashings started. The thugs entered the station, at certain points charging onto the platform and into trains to beat up anyone who was aboard. A lawmaker, Lam Cheuk Ting, required 18 stitches in his mouth after he was attacked. One journalist with Hong Kong media outlet Stand News live-streamed the assault, and in the process was knocked down and struck by the thugs. In several cases, calls to the city’s emergency hotline were cut off mid-conversation after the attack and locations were mentioned.Later Sunday evening, pro-Beijing legislator Junius Ho greeted the individuals who carried out the attacks, shaking their hands, applauding their actions, and thanking them. When asked about this later, Ho said “My job is to reach out.”It didn’t take long for Hongkongers to react to Ho’s chummy exchange with the assailants. The next day, his office was egged and trashed, shattered glass blanketing every surface.Protesters Seize Hong Kong Legislature and Raise—Now It’s China’s MoveOn Sunday, after the mob left the station, a small cohort of police officers arrived at the scene. They made no arrests and said that they didn’t encounter anyone holding weapons, though photographs taken by a New York Times photographer have surfaced to counter that claim. Reporters asked why the police were slow to respond to a violent incident, but the division commander retorted “I can’t say if we are late.” He followed up with “I didn’t see the time on my watch, sorry.”By Monday morning, more than 45 individuals had sought treatment at hospitals, although the number of people who were injured surely runs much higher. In the past few weeks, there were cases where the police force had accessed medical records of protesters who sought treatment, in turn identifying some who were present at anti-government marches.Locals say the individuals wearing white are triad gang members. On Monday, many shops in Yuen Long remained shuttered as rumors circulated that the thugs will be back in action after nightfall.Even before the attack in Yuen Long, there was a severe lack of trust in the police force in Hong Kong. A track by local rapper JB, “FUCKTHEPOPO,” has become an anthem among some of the younger protesters. Graffiti reading the same message has been spray-painted on the outer walls of some police stations, including the headquarters. A hand sign where all but the ring finger are extended is used to mock the police, calling back to an incident where a protester bit off the finger of a cop who was trying to subdue him during clashes in a shopping mall last week.Many in Hong Kong now see the police as complicit in the attacks in Yuen Long. At a press conference, the police chief, Stephen Lo, said the police force wasn’t equipped to deal with what was going on at the train station because protests elsewhere demanded attention. The city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, who has been the focus of ire among the population in the past weeks, said the government “did not have all the available facts,” and hence had to delay action. She also mentioned that the actions of protesters in other parts of the city—in the central business district and at the Chinese Communist Party’s liaison office, where its emblem was hit with black paint bombs—“hurt the feelings of the Chinese nation,” parroting a talking point that is often used in the Chinese government’s propaganda.Last week, the Financial Times reported that Carrie Lam had attempted to resign from her post, only to be told by Beijing that she needs to stay in place and settle matters in Hong Kong. Lam denied that any of this had ever happened. In any case, here’s the kicker: As long as she remains as the top political puppet in Hong Kong, locals will be protesting against her instead of overtly invoking Beijing and Xi Jinping in their grievances.As we approach the fifth anniversary of the Umbrella Movement, we can expect many more protests to take place every weekend, perhaps even more often than that, with violence escalating each week.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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Hong Kong’s uneasy deal with China

Hong Kong’s uneasy deal with ChinaHong Kong is part of China, now and forever. Mr. Xi himself visited Hong Kong over the weekend to make the point. A military parade that featured thousands of Chinese government troops, the largest yet staged on the island, added an exclamation point.



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