A teenage protester in Hong Kong was shot in the chest with a live round by police on Tuesday, marking the first time a protester has been hit by a live round since demonstrations began in June and overshadowing National Day celebrations.
The 18-year-old was shot by police in the working-class Tsuen Wan district of northern Hong Kong, close to the Chinese border, police said. He is reportedly in critical condition and undergoing surgery at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
A video posted on Facebook appears to show the teen protester lying on the ground, bleeding profusely from his chest, and screaming, “My chest is in pain. Take me to the hospital.”
A separate video filmed by the University of Hong Kong Student Union’s Campus TV appears to show the teen being shot at close range with a pistol during clashes with several riot police. Violent scenes played out around Hong Kong as protesters continue their weekslong pushback against Beijing’s efforts to undermine the city’s autonomy.
In a video statement posted on Facebook, Police Senior Superintendent Yolanda Yu Hoi Kwan said the force was “saddened” that a teenager was shot. She added that the officer shot the protester after being attacked, and felt his life was in danger. “[We] warn rioters to stop breaking the law immediately, as we will strictly enforce the law,” she said.
“I think it is appalling,” Emily Lau, a pro-democracy politician, told VICE News. “The confrontations today have overshadowed the celebrations in Beijing and should make President Xi Jinping realize something must be done to resolve the crisis unless he wants to destroy Hong Kong.”
Tens of thousands of black-clad protesters gathered in Hong Kong, but peaceful marches quickly descended into running battles with riot police. Tear gas and live rounds were fired in at multiple locations as protesters threw paving stones and petrol bombs at police while vandalizing ATMs and stores.
A journalist for local outlet RTHK claims to have been shot in the head with a projectile.
As protests continued into Tuesday evening, police warned residents to remain indoors. "Currently, there are riots across Kowloon, Hong Kong Island and the New Territories,” a post on the police’s Facebook page read. “Rioters have started fires and committed mass property damage, injuring many people. Police urgently appeal to every member of the public to stay in safe places, avoid going outdoors and stay tuned to the latest situation.”
The scenes playing out in Hong Kong on Tuesday took place despite a concerted two-day campaign by officials that saw police raid 48 premises and arrest 51 people in a bid to ward off protests.
The violent scenes in Hong Kong are set to overshadow the carefully choreographed celebrations in the Chinese capital marking 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
According to the Ministry of National Defence, around 15,000 military personnel, 580 pieces of military equipment and 160 aircraft made an appearance at the parade. Overhead, a fleet of fighter jets flew past in a 70.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, flanked by former leaders, addressed large crowds in Tiananmen Square before overseeing an extravagant military parade.
During his brief address, Xi said: “No force can stop the Chinese people and the Chinese nation forging ahead. He also addressed the controversial territories of Hong Kong and Taiwan:
“Forging ahead, we must remain committed to a strategy of peaceful reunification and One Country Two Systems," he said.
Just as Hong Kong’s protesters are making clear their views on Beijing’s rule, Taiwan, the self-ruled island China claims as its own territory, responded by condemning Xi’s regime as a “dictatorship.”
“[The Communist Party] imposed a one-party dictatorship for 70 years, a concept of governance that violates the values of democracy, freedom and human rights,” a statement said.
Within China, the government has moved to increase its online censorship efforts, known as the Great Firewall, ahead of the 70th-anniversary celebrations. The clampdown is so severe that the editor of the state-run Global Times complained about an inability to access the internet outside of China.
"Even work at the Global Times has been affected,” Hu Xijin comment on popular Chinese social network Sina Weibo before his comment was deleted.
In a bid to ensure as many people as possible watch the parade, the Communist Party gave away 620,000 free 32-inch televisions — made by a domestic brand, of course — to the country's poorest residents, according to state news agency Xinhua.
While the government is doing its best to paint China in a positive light, activist groups are pointing out that Beijing’s propaganda push should not overshadow the human rights abuses perpetrated by the party over the last seven decades.
“Today is the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party's rule of China,” Yaqiu Wang, China researcher for Human Rights Watch, tweeted on Tuesday. “The CCP killed tens of millions of Chinese people, plundered our resources, forbids us from speaking our mind, and jails us if we criticize it, thus is arguably the biggest anti-China organization in the world.”
Cover: Police fire tear gas at anti-government protesters at Shatin, Hong Kong, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. Thousands of black-clad pro-democracy protesters defied a police ban and marched in central Hong Kong on Tuesday, urging China's Communist Party to "return power to the people" as the party celebrated its 70th year of rule. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)