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Home / World / Hong Kong is teetering on the edge as protests take a darker turn

Hong Kong is teetering on the edge as protests take a darker turn



On Friday, police raided a nondescript warehouse in an industrial area of ​​the city, seizing a large cache of high-powered explosive, petrol bombs and other weapons. Following another anti-government march Sunday, masked men, wielding iron bars and bamboo sticks, rushed into a Yuen Long metro station in the far northwest of Hong Kong, and indiscriminately attacked anyone wearing black or other identifiers of the protest movement.

At least 45 people were injured, some seriously, and were shown sitting on the floor and left bloodied and dazed. Police took several hours to arrive on the scene, further outraging protesters and increasing bitterness between them and the force.

No developments have so far shown any signs of the protests, with a new rally already planned for Yuen Long this weekend, but the government is ready to make the child of concessions that could mollify enough anger to restore calm.

With the coming of the day ̵

1; and the terrifying thought of potential bombings raised by Friday's raid – there is no doubt that the Chinese government, which has taken a seemingly hands-off approach, wants to step in and exercise more control.

Turn to violence?

Hong Kong has a history of violent clashes.
During the 1960s, a series of bombings took place, and police exchanged fire with violent protesters. More than 50 people died in the clashes, which were followed by numerous social reforms – including expanded public housing and local government amendments – by the colonial administration.
The tactics used by protestors in recent weeks – while not comparable to the 1960s – have grown increasing radical.
 City of dissent: Hong Kong has a proud tradition of protesting its own identity

On July 1, hundreds of protesters stormed the city's legislative building, vandalizing and briefly occupying it before they were cleared by police. Protesters also have thrown bricks and other objects at police, so they claim they have been targeted by petrol bombs. Police have responded with rubber bullets and tear gas, amid allegations of excessive force.
What has started as a demonstration of independence? Many protesters have started describing the movement as a "revolution," and chants of "liberate Hong Kong" and "fight for Hong Kong" have become more common. Hong Kong University of Hong Kong and Lingnan University said: "We are still in a hurry!"

The use of bombs would be a huge escalation, one never before seen from the modern pro-democracy movement, which has been characterized by peaceful marches attended by large swaths of society. Any violence would be the cause of a minor minority of protesters, the vast majority of those who are still in the process of making peace, but there is no pathway for the great leaderless movement to reign in its most radical elements.

Many of those protesters believe they have no peace of mind – radical lawmakers have been forced out of the legislature, and others have lost their way.

Pro-democracy politicians and other members of the opposition – many of whom are older and do not share the pro-independence views of many younger protesters – to the storming of the legislation to exert control or even protests have been unsuccessful.

"The pan-democrats acknowledge in this new era of movement, we are not the leaders and politicians can not take the role of leaders like they did in the old days," Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung said Monday.

Both Hong Kong and Chinese authorities have pledged to release people's Liberation Army (PLA) troops in escalation in protesters' tactics.

Beijing's reaction is always the most difficult to predict to any development, due to the hurdles of Hong Kong – and its influence and direction of the city's semi-autonomous government.

 Hong Kong's democracy movement was about hope. These protests are driven by desperation

Officials are furiously addressing the Chinese government's Liaison Office, Beijing's top representative in the city, where a splinter group from the main march threw eggs and vandalized a government seal in front of the building.

A spokesman for the State Council, China's ruling body, said the actions "openly challenge the authority of the Central Government, touch the bottom line" of the "one country, two systems" model that has been operated in Hong Kong since the

Hong Kong leader CY Leung said that "Hong Kong's never want to tolerate these frantic rioters who forget their ancestors."

While peaceful anti-government protests have been largely censored in China, Sunday's violence was covered in state media, led by outraged editorials.

"The radical protesters' acts are open challenges to the central government's authority," state news agency Xinhua said. The criminals must be punished according to the law. "

The People's Daily, in its condemnation of the protests, adopted an iconic phrase – "if this can be tolerated, what can not?" 1960s and '70s.

New players

Many protesters were calling for themselves to uphold the law Sunday and Monday, the attacks in Yuen Long were carried out in the subway station.

Similar claims of collusion were made in 2014, when masked with alleged links to organized crime attacked Umbrella Movement protesters who had occupied the city's Mong Kok district for weeks. Lennon Walls – collections of pro-democracy.

Lennon Walls posters and post-it notes that have jump up over the city – and clinging with and assaulting protesters who attempt to protect them.

Pro-government protests – another one of which took place Saturday – have attracted thousands of participants and have been peaceful, but some protesters and journalists have been shouting abuse and threats.

The emergence of a more extremist pro-government group, one more than willing to use violence against protesters even as they return to their homes, adds another element of instability to an already confused and dangerous situation.

As Hong Kong looks ahead to another weekend of protests, no one appears to have any idea.

CNN's Eric Cheung, Maisy Mok, Laura He, and Chermaine Lee contributed reporting.


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