Third Day of Travel Chaos After Night Battles: Hong Kong Update




 

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong faced a third-straight day of transit disruptions, after a night of pitched battles across the city between protesters and police.

Commuters packed onto the first trains Wednesday morning amid calls by activists to impede rush-hour traffic in a show of anger over the government's response and police tactics. Several MTR Corp. services including the Mong Kok and Tuen Mun stations and the entire East Rail Line were already shut due to vandalism. Numerous bus lines were halted and several schools had suspended classes.

The protests which have been raging for five months in pursuit of greater democracy in the former British colony intensified Friday after a student died of injuries sustained near a protest. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam -- with a fresh nod of support from Communist Party leaders in Beijing -- has vowed not to give in to violent demonstrations.

Key developments:

Some subway stations were closed and schools and universities shut their doors as protests sprung up around the city. Chinese University of Hong Kong was the site of the most intense protests.Tear gas was fired again in the heart of Hong Kong's business and financial district as riot police confronted protesters in Central for a second day.The 21-year-old student protester who was shot and injured by police Monday was formally arrested.Hong Kong leader Lam has given two press conferences in less than 24 hours in which she has urged an end to the disruptions.District elections are still scheduled to take place on Nov. 24.

Here's the latest (all times local):

Keeping kids home (7:52 a.m.)

The Education Bureau said that parents could decide whether they want to send their children to schools Wednesday because of traffic disruptions, according to a statement on a government website. The government has so far decided against suspending public school classes despite the disruptions.

Christmas tree burns (7:13 a.m.)

Mapletree North Asia Commercial Trust said in a corporate filing that its Festival Walk mall in Kowloon Tong sustained extensive damage in protests Tuesday. Protesters, among other things, smashed glass panels at the entrances and set fire to a Christmas tree. The mall will be closed on Wednesday as the company assesses the damage.

Some train services suspended (6:17 a.m.)

East Rail Line service has been suspended due to vandalism at stations, the rail operator MTR Corp. said in statement. MTR said it won't provide free shuttle bus service because of "adverse road conditions" after conducting a risk assessment. The Mong Kok, Tuen Mun and Tseung Kwan O stations were also closed.

McConnell to work on legislation (4:30 a.m.)

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to work on legislation supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, as some senators say they're growing restless with the chamber's failure to act. In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell said "Beijing's insatiable thirst for control" was undermining Hong Kong's autonomy.

McConnell said he would work "toward a strong and procedurally workable solution" with senators who've been pushing legislation designed to put pressure on China. A bill that would allow sanctions against officials responsible for Hong Kong and require annual reviews of the city's special trading status has already pass the U.S. House.

Clashes at university (11:45 p.m. Tuesday)

Protests and clashes continue at multiple locations across the city including Mong Kok, Tai Po, Kowloon Tong and Tseung Kwan O. Riot police repeatedly fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators.

The situation at Chinese University of Hong Kong "continues to intensify," according to an update from the city's police issued at 11:27 p.m. As officers were "retreating, rioters threw bricks, petrol bombs, launched arrows and even fired a signal flare" at them, according to the statement.

Given that the violence had reached a "deadly level" and emergency services were being hampered, police deployed a so-called Specialized Crowd Management Vehicle to "facilitate retreat." Clashes at the university appeared to abate.

Police spray blue dye (10:29 p.m. Tuesday)

Police fired streams of blue dye at students congregated in the area of a bridge at Chinese University of Hong Kong, after hours of confrontations, including multiple rounds of tear gas. Students set up barricades to stop riot police from charging. A number of students were injured, including one who was suspected to have been knocked unconscious after a head injury, according to Radio Television Hong Kong.

More disruptions planned (8:09 p.m. Tuesday)

Protesters called for disruptions to MTR train services starting at 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday, as the city's busy rush hour kicks off, with people planning to board trains until at least 10:30 a.m. The calls came as clashes again escalated on the Chinese University of Hong Kong campus, with police firing tear gas and protesters and students throwing petrol bombs.

--With assistance from Karen Leigh, Fion Li and Gregor Stuart Hunter.

To contact the reporters on this story: Dominic Lau in Hong Kong at dlau92@bloomberg.net;Natalie Lung in Hong Kong at flung6@bloomberg.net;Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, John Harney

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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