Knife attack, ear bite at Hong Kong protest
Anti-government protesters in Hong Kong crowded a shopping mall on Sunday in running clashes with police during which a man with a knife slashed several people and apparently bit off part of a local politician’s ear.
A human chain in Cityplaza, in the eastern suburb of Taikoo Shing, turned into a face-to-face conflict with the police running up and down escalators where families with young children had been window-shopping just minutes before and watching skating on the ice rink.
Police said the protesters had vandalised a restaurant in the mall after a peaceful chanting of slogans in the 22nd straight weekend of protests by people furious at perceived Chinese meddling in the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Several people were wounded, with one man in a white T-shirt, believed to be the knifeman, being beaten with sticks by protesters. Another man lay blood-soaked on the pavement outside the mall.
Democratic district councillor Andrew Chiu was among the wounded, blood dripping from his ear. Democratic Party lawmaker James To told reporters the knifeman had bitten off part of Chiu’s ear and slashed other people.
He said the other wounded were in more serious condition than Chiu, who was seen on TV holding the piece of his ear in a plastic bag with bloody hands.
A kitchen knife lay on the ground outside the mall.
The police made several arrests as protesters shouted “black police”, a reference to their perceived brutality. The standoff lasted into the night, with residents jeering at the police from the roadsides and balconies of nearby apartments, chanting “leave now” and mouthing colourful Cantonese expletives.
The police fired tear gas outside the East Hotel in Taikoo Shing to try and break up the crowds. They then left.
“These police are not what they used to be,” said Julie, 24, giving the police the middle finger. “They come in here and push us around. It is not right.”
The police fired pepper spray at reporters when they got too close. One journalist was arrested.
“This is out of control. This was a peaceful protest. And these people are just local residents, we live around here,” said Desmond Fong, 28, who works in marketing. He was out shopping for sneakers when the protest erupted.
Taikoo Shing is an office and high-rise apartment development dating back to the 1970s, with the newer office, bar and restaurant district of Quarry Bay next door. The police said they were investigating the knife attacks.
There were also running battles, vandalism and scuffles in and around malls in the New Territories towns of Tai Po, Tuen Mun and Sha Tin, where the police fired pepper spray as protesters hurled abuse. Protesters built a street barricade in Tai Po.
Pro-democracy protesters battled police across the main island on Saturday, furious at Communist Party leaders in Beijing and perceived Chinese meddling with Hong Kong’s promised freedoms, which China denies.
They have vandalised Hong Kong businesses seen as pro-China and in July daubed China’s Liaison Office, the key symbol of Chinese sovereignty, with graffiti.
Cleaners swept up broken glass at the Hong Kong office of China’s official Xinhua news agency on Sunday, one of the buildings vandalised as activists hurled petrol bombs and set fire to metro stations.
Xinhua condemned the attack by people it described as “barbaric thugs” who had broken doors and security systems and thrown firebombs and paint bombs into the lobby.
“The practice of the black rioters once again shows that ‘stopping the violence and restoring order’ is Hong Kong’s most important and urgent task at present,” a spokesperson for Xinhua said in a Facebook post.
The police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and a water cannon at protesters on Saturday and early Sunday as the violence spilled from Hong Kong island across the harbour to Kowloon. One of the protesters’ key demands is an independent probe into perceived police brutality.
There have been several injuries during the five months of unrest, including a protester shot in the chest and a policeman slashed in the neck, but no deaths since the protests began in June.
Hong Kong returned to China under a “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees its freedoms for 50 years. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has a garrison in Hong Kong but the troops have remained in the barracks since the protests began.
The protesters had last month targeted a PLA barracks with lasers, prompting the troops to hoist a banner warning they could be arrested. Senior PLA officers have said that violence would not be tolerated.