Hong Kong protests
November 10, 2019

Hong Kong police shot at least two pro-democracy protesters on Monday morning, after the demonstrators attempted to block a busy street.

The chaos began when a traffic officer started tussling with a protester, The Washington Post reports. Another demonstrator then began to approach them, and the officer fired a live round into the person's stomach. Two more rounds were then fired at another protester. A police spokesperson said the two injured demonstrators have been taken to a hospital.

Hong Kong has been rocked by unrest for the last five months, with protesters first hitting the streets after a bill was introduced that would make it legal for suspects arrested in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China to face trial. During a protest earlier this month, a demonstrator fell from a parking structure while police tried to disperse the crowd; the protester died on Friday, which led others in the movement to call for a general strike on Monday. Catherine Garcia

October 12, 2019

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wasn't able to make any inroads with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during his visit to the city Saturday, but he did get a chance to meet with a few pro-democracy protesters.

Cruz was supposed to meet with Lam, but he was informed upon landing that the meeting was canceled. Cruz said Lam's office had asked that the details of their meeting remain secret and requested Cruz not speak to the press about it. Apparently, the senator wasn't keen on those terms, and it looks like the disagreement proved to be a sticking point for both sides. Cruz described the cancelation as a "sign of weakness" and "fear of the protesters on the streets of Hong Kong."

Cruz, who is one of Congress' staunchest Beijing critics, was reportedly wearing all black when he arrived in Hong Kong in solidarity with the protest movement. He said he met with a few of the movement's leaders and urged them to shun any forms of violence, even in response to police or government brutality, while they continue their efforts.

Cruz wasn't the only U.S. official who came up during Hong Kong's 19th consecutive week of demonstrations. Protesters were reportedly determined to prove to President Trump that the rallies were still going strong after Trump said they had "toned down a lot" and that China had made "great progress" in its response to the situation. "We will still come out here swinging the American flag to let him know he is wrong," one protester told The Wall Street Journal, adding that many people are still holding out for U.S. support. Tim O'Donnell

October 6, 2019

Things have not gone according to plan for Hong Kong's government.

The city's recent ban on protesters wearing masks, implemented after Chief Executive Carrie Lam invoked a colonial-era emergency law, appears to have failed as thousands of demonstrators returned to the streets for the 18th consecutive weekend of anti-government protests Sunday. Many of them continued to cover their faces in defiance.

The rallies grew more chaotic and violent as the day went on. Protesters reportedly set fires, damaged banks and subways, and constructed road barricades, while police fired tear gas and other projectiles. A taxi driver was reportedly beaten by a mob in one district. The scene led uniform soldiers from the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army to raise a yellow warning flag to let protesters know they were in defiance of the law and may be prosecuted.

Lam on Saturday pleaded with the public to denounce the violence and the protesters, but it appears to largely have been to no avail. Katherine Law, a 28-year-old protester, for instance, was attending her first unapproved protest on Sunday while wearing a medical mask following Lam's criticism and the emergency ordinance. "I just couldn't stand with the government anymore," she said. Read more at the South China Morning Post and The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

October 5, 2019

The subway and most shopping malls were closed in Hong Kong on Saturday, as the city reportedly fell "eerily silent" amid an unprecedented shutdown after the government invoked emergency measures to stifle political unrest.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of anti-government protesters defied a ban on face masks and marched in the streets, but by evening they had reportedly dispersed. However, there are reportedly plans for bigger marches Sunday.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam defended the emergency measures, which were implemented when Lam invoked the colonial-era Emergency Regulations Ordinance for the first time in more than 50 years. She criticized and blamed the protesters for the "horribly violent incidents" that occurred during Friday demonstrations, which erupted after the face mask ban was announced. During the Friday protests, police shot a teenage boy, and protesters reportedly torched businesses and metro stations.

Lam appealed to the public to condemn the violence and the protests. Read more at Reuters and the South China Morning Post. Tim O'Donnell

October 3, 2019

On Thursday, police in Hong Kong filed criminal charges against an 18-year-old protester whom an officer shot point-blank in the chest on Tuesday, accusing the high school student of rioting and attacking police. The victim, Tsang Chi-kin, is recovering in the hospital and was not in the courtroom. He was the first protester shot with live ammunition in months of persistent demonstrations that have roiled Hong Kong.

Tuesday's protests were an especial embarrassment for Beijing, which was contemporaneously celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China with a pomp-filled, heavily choreographed demonstration of might and unity. Police say the officer fired his revolver at Tsang because he feared for his life, as the student tried to hit him with a rod. The use of potentially lethal force on a protester has further enraged the protesters, thousands of whom rallied Wednesday and Thursday to demand police accountability.

Tsang is one of seven people charged with rioting, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, and Tsang was also charged with two counts of attacking officers, each carrying another six months. In all, Hong Kong has detained 1,750 people since the protests began in June. Peter Weber

September 8, 2019

Hong Kong's protesters want the United States to step in and help them out.

Anti-government, pro-democracy protests continued in Hong Kong on Sunday, as thousands of demonstrators marched on the U.S. consulate in the city in an attempt to garner support from Washington.

The protesters reportedly waved American flags and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" as they called on President Trump to "liberate" Hong Kong.

More specifically, The South China Morning Post reports, the rallygoers want Washington officials to back the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would require the U.S. government to assess Hong Kong's level of political autonomy to determine whether it should continue to have a special trade status under the U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992. The bill, if passed, could reportedly put more pressure on Beijing, because losing the special status would affect investment in mainland China.

The U.S. has remained mostly mum on Hong Kong as Washington and Beijing try to hammer out some sort of resolution to their trade war. But Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Saturday urged China to exercise restraint and Trump has suggested in the past he thinks the situation should be settled "humanely." Read more at Reuters and The South China Morning Post. Tim O'Donnell

September 4, 2019

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Wednesday that she is withdrawing an extradition bill that sparked months of protests, meeting a key demand of the pro-democracy demonstrators. Lam suspended the controversial legislation — which would allow transferring people from Hong Kong's independent judiciary to mainland China's Communist Party–controlled courts — in June and later said it was "dead," but protesters insisted that the bill be formally killed off.

Initial reaction to the move among the protest movement was skepticism, with many calling it too little, too late. An online forum popular with the protesters was filled with calls to keep up the pressure until all their demands are met. Other demands include an independent inquiry into police violence against protesters, amnesty for jailed protesters and protest leaders, and a return to direct election of Hong Kong lawmakers and leaders. Peter Weber

September 3, 2019

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Tuesday she has never actually considered resigning over the protests that have roiled the city over the summer, clarifying leaked comments she made last week to business leaders. In a 24-minute recording of her speech, obtained by Reuters and released Monday, Lam said that "for a chief executive to have caused this huge havoc to Hong Kong is unforgivable. It’s just unforgivable. If I have a choice, the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology, is to step down."

Lam did not dispute the authenticity of the leaked recording, saying only that it's "totally unacceptable" someone secretly recorded her private comments. But she did tell reporters Tuesday that quitting was "an easy path" she won't take. "I have never tendered a resignation to the central people's government. I have not even contemplated to discuss a resignation," Lam said, adding that "the choice of not resigning was my own choice," not Beijing's.

In her leaked comments, Lam also said Beijing isn't preparing to send in the army to quell Hong Kong's persistent protests, but her own ability to defuse the protests is constrained by the central government now viewing the situation as a national sovereignty and security issue, especially amid the trade war with the U.S. In such a situation, she said, "the political room for the chief executive who, unfortunately, has to serve two masters by constitution — that is, the central people's government and the people of Hong Kong — that political room for maneuvering is very, very, very limited." Read the entire transcript at Reuters. Peter Weber

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