Pro-democracy protesters in the Central district, Hong Kong, November 13, 2019 (AFP / DALE DE LA REY)
Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters have further intensified their all-out actions under a new tactic, "the generalized outbreak," which aims to paralyze the ex-British colony as much as it has been for three days of rare violence.
This new strategy, which results in a multiplication of protest homes, has resulted in the closure of shopping centers, shops, schools and many metro stations vital to the operation of the city. To the point that a police officer estimated that the megacity of 7.5 million inhabitants was "on the verge of total collapse".
The ex-British colony has been experiencing its worst political crisis since June since its return to Beijing in 1997. And the determination of the protesters echoes the intransigence of the local executive and the Chinese central government. They kept saying they would not give in to street pressure.
The violence in Hong Kong (AFP /)
For the third day in a row, protesters Wednesday held barricades obstructing traffic in many areas of the city, bunching bikes, metal barriers, trash and everything they could find. They targeted very early the arteries borrowed by employees joining their workplaces.
And for the third day in a row, several metro lines, usually very efficient in carrying more than four million people daily, were closed as a result of vandalism.
– Chinese students are fleeing –
In order to get back to work, the locals had to wait in line for long hours to wait for buses or taxis.
In Central, where many foreign companies have their offices, employees took advantage of their lunch break to support the radicals holding barricades at the edge of luxury shops.
On university campuses, protesters dressed in black remained mobilized in tense face-to-face encounters after a night of violence with the police.
Moon illuminates pro-democracy protesters at Chinese University in Hong Kong on November 13, 2019 (AFP / Philip FONG)
Sign of concern over the sudden worsening of the situation in the semi-autonomous region, students from mainland China have started to flee Hong Kong by bus, or even by boat, according to police and universities. However, the number of parties left was not known at the moment.
Many foreign students residing on some campuses have also been evacuated to hotels.
The renewed tensions in Hong Kong can be explained in particular by the adoption by the demonstrators of a new tactic, known as "the generalized outbreak".
The idea is to maximize the capabilities of the police by multiplying smaller actions, but now in a maximum of places. And this constantly, whereas before the actions took place essentially evenings and weekends.
– "This madness" –
Since Monday, small groups launched simultaneous actions in a multitude of neighborhoods in the megacity of southern China, erecting barricades, blocking crossroads, vandalizing subway stations and pro-Beijing shops and, especially, provoking the police.
"The intention of the rioters is to push Hong Kong to collapse completely, no excuse, no political reason can justify or glorify this madness," police spokesman John Tse told reporters on Wednesday.
The day before one of his colleagues had seen Hong Kong "on the verge of total collapse".
Pro-democracy protesters gather at Hong Kong Chinese University in front of a bamboo catapult on November 13, 2019 (AFP / Philip FONG)
Already strained by the death on Friday of a 22-year-old student who had fallen from a parking lot, the situation deteriorated further on Monday morning when a policeman injured a gunshot, an unarmed protester who has since been in a critical state.
This is the third confirmed case of a protester hit by a real-life police fire since June.
The shot, filmed and broadcast live on Facebook, has exacerbated the anger of protesters who have long denounced the brutality of the police response.
– Elections of 24 November –
Criticism has also been launched against the violence of some demonstrators. On Monday, a 57-year-old man was sprayed with flammable liquid by a protester with whom he quarreled and turned into a human torch. He is also always in critical condition.
The Chinese government has sent disturbing signals that it wants to reduce Hong Kong's freedoms and strengthen security measures.
On Tuesday, the People's Daily, the Communist Party's governing body, said local elections scheduled for November 24 could be canceled if protesters did not give in.
Chinese state newspapers also pointed out that the People's Liberation Army (PLA), which has a garrison in Hong Kong, was on hand to support, if necessary, the Hong Kong police, whom they hailed as "restraint. ".
China, however, does not seem ready to take such drastic measures as a military intervention, says Ben Bland, director of the Southeast Asia Project at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based political think tank.
According to him, she seems rather to bet on the long-term weakening of the movement and on her capacity for intimidation.
kma-jac / lch