Hong Kong Protesters, Outraged by Death of College Student, Again Clash With Police

By Frank Fang
Frank Fang
Frank Fang
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers news in China and Taiwan. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
November 10, 2019 Updated: November 10, 2019

Protesters in Hong Kong clashed again with police on Nov. 10, a day after about 100,000 people gathered for a candlelight vigil to commemorate the death of a college student that was related to police action.

Violence escalated on Nov. 11 morning, when police fired three live rounds at two protesters in the neighborhood of Sai Wan Ho, after a group of protesters tried to block roads as part of a citywide strike action. According to Hong Kong media, the two were taken away in an ambulance, one in critical condition.

Alex Chow Tsz-lok, 22, a computer science student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), died from cardiac arrest on Nov. 8, days after falling one story from a parking garage in the Tseung Kwan O area, and suffering severe brain injuries.

Prior to his fall on Nov. 3, local police had fired tear gas in the parking area, reportedly in reaction to protesters throwing bottles and bricks from the building. Police said they had nothing to do with his death, and that closed-circuit footage showed Chow walking by himself shortly before falling.

An ambulance assigned to Chow was delayed in arriving because of heavy traffic, the fire department said. When the ambulance approached the area, paramedics had to get to Chow on foot because a road near the parking garage was blocked, according to local media. It’s unknown why the road was blocked; police have denied causing any delay in Chow receiving medical assistance.

Wei Shyy, president of HKUST, has called for a “thorough and independent investigation” into Chow’s death, while the police have recommended that a coroner’s court investigate the death.

While the circumstances of Chow’s fall remain unclear, his death has become a new rallying cry for Hong Kong protesters, angered at what they see as violent and heavy-handed tactics by police in handling the protests since June.

In the evening on Nov. 9, a candlelight vigil was held in Tamar Park, next to the government offices. Locals paid tribute to Chow by placing white flowers and paper cranes along the walls of the parking lot where he fell.

Sunday Protests

On Nov. 10, protests broke out in several districts, including Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin, and Causeway Bay, in and around shopping malls, after an online call to action to “go shopping.”

At around 3:30 p.m. local time, police fired tear gas at a bridge in Tsuen Wan, injuring a female journalist who was working for local media Now TV.

An hour later, at the shopping center Citywalk, also in Tsuen Wan, police fired pepper spray at protesters in response to umbrellas and bottles being hurled their way.

Plainclothes police also made several arrests inside the Festival Walk shopping center located in Kowloon Tong, where protesters had gathered to chant slogans, according to Hong Kong media. Demonstrators began brawling with the officers, with at least one officer suffering injuries.

Eventually, riot police arrived and dispersed the protesters by firing pepper spray.

At least five arrests were also made at the Jat Min Chuen public housing estate, located in Sha Tin, as police looked for protesters who had earlier gathered at a nearby park.

As night unfolded, police began to confront protesters in the streets of Tsuen Wan by firing multiple rounds of tear gas, according to RTHK.

At around 8:45 p.m. local time, police deployed a water-cannon vehicle to disperse protesters who took up the streets of Mong Kok.

Deepening Crisis 

Seven Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers are accused of violating article 19 of the Legislative Council Ordinance, which deals with assault and obstruction of members of the city’s legislative council (LegCo). Police brought charges because of a May 11 incident, when several lawmakers got into a scuffle while debating the since-withdrawn extradition bill that ignited the protests.

During the protests, Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting was inside the LegCo building, refusing to surrender himself to police.

Lawmaker Eddie Chu was arrested Nov. 8, while five others—Au Nok-hin, Raymond Chan, Gary Fan, Kwok Ka-ki, and Leung Yiu-chung—voluntarily showed up at police stations on Nov. 9 after they were notified of their pending arrests.

At least three of them, Kwok, Leung, and Fan, are scheduled to appear at the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Nov. 11.

Tanya Chan, convener of LegCo’s pro-democracy camp, has accused the Hong Kong government of using the arrests as a means to stir up public anger, so that the upcoming district council elections on Nov. 24 would be canceled.

Hong Kong’s constitutional and mainland affairs secretary, Patrick Nip, has responded by saying the arrests have nothing to do with the election.

U.S. lawmakers also voiced concern about the arrests.

“It seems the #CCP [Chinese Communist Party] & HKSAR [Hong Kong special administrative region] Govt would rather subvert Hong Kong’s elections than live up to their promises,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote on Twitter.

There are new signs that Beijing could tighten its grip on Hong Kong, following a recent CCP conclave where top Beijing officials discussed the need for “perfecting” Hong Kong’s “legal system and law enforcement mechanism,” according to the communique from the Chinese Communist Party’s recent fourth plenary session.

A lengthy article written by Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office within the cabinet-like State Council, was recently published in a series of books about the conclave. The Office’s official website also published the article on Nov. 9.

In the article, Zhang says the Hong Kong government’s failure to enact a controversial law, called Article 23, is the main reason behind “Hong Kong independence and local radical separatist forces” becoming more intensified in recent years. The Chinese regime has consistently pushed the narrative that the city’s ongoing dissent is fomented by Western countries encouraging locals to advocate for Hong Kong’s independence.

Article 23, an anti-subversion law that many feared would impinge on civil liberties, was scrapped following a mass protest in 2003. Some pro-Beijing officials in Hong Kong have sought for the bill to be reintroduced.

Zhang added that strengthening Hong Kong’s “law enforcement power” is an urgent task for the Hong Kong government.

Speaking on a radio program on Nov. 10, Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong’s sole representative to a committee that leads China’s rubber-stamp legislature, denied that Beijing was pressuring Hong Kong’s government to pass Article 23, according to RTHK.

However, Tam added that if there was a need for Article 23, then it must be enacted.

Hong Kong bureau of The Epoch Times contributed to this report.

Frank Fang
Frank Fang
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers news in China and Taiwan. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.