A firebrand pro-Beijing politician in Hong Kong was yesterday wounded in a knife attack, the latest tit-for-tat political violence to break out in a territory engulfed by seething pro-democracy protests.
The stabbing came as Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) said her resolve to crack down on the protesters had been bolstered by a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on Monday.
Hong Kong has been convulsed by five months of huge and increasingly violent protests calling for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability.
With Beijing and Lam refusing to offer a political solution to the protesters’ grievances, violence has spiraled on both sides of the ideological divide.
In the latest incident, a man holding a bouquet approached pro-Beijing Hong Kong Legislator Junius Ho (何君堯) yesterday morning as Ho was campaigning in his constituency of Tuen Mun, a town in the New Territories.
Footage posted online showed the man handing Ho the flowers and asking for a photograph. He then pulled a knife from his bag before striking his victim in the chest.
Police said that three people were wounded in the incident, including the attacker, who was subdued by Ho’s aides as he shouted in Cantonese: “Junius Ho, you scum.”
A police source, who declined to be named, said that Ho received a stab wound to the left side of his chest and the attacker was arrested.
Ho, 57, was conscious when he got into the ambulance. His bloodstained white shirt and wound dressings could be seen on the ground in the aftermath of the attack.
The stabbing came as Lam wrapped up a series of talks in China with top Chinese Communist Party officials, including Xi, who threw his support behind the beleaguered leader when they met on Monday, state media reported.
“President Xi’s trust and support to me and the Hong Kong government has strengthened our resolve to stop the violence and curb the chaos,” Lam said yesterday as she met in Beijing with Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng (韓正).
China has run Hong Kong under a “one country, two systems” model, allowing liberties not seen on the mainland, since its handover from the British in 1997, but public anger has been building for years over fears that Beijing has begun eroding those freedoms, especially since Xi came to power.
Protesters have issued a list of demands, including universal suffrage and an investigation into abuses by police.
Beijing has shown no willingness to meet demonstrators’ demands and has signaled it plans to tighten its control over Hong Kong following a four-day meeting of party leaders last week.
The protesters show no sign of leaving the streets after 22 consecutive weekends of unrest, while fights have broken out with growing frequency.
Beijing’s supporters have attacked opponents often in targeted assaults against prominent government critics and opposition politicians.
Eight pro-democracy figures have been attacked, including Civil Human Rights Front convener Jimmy Sham (岑子傑), who was hospitalized last month by men wielding hammers.
On Sunday, a man with a knife attacked democracy protesters, including pro-democracy Hong Kong Legislator Andrew Chiu (趙家賢), who had part of his ear bitten off, but the violence is far from one-sided.
Crowds of pro-democracy protesters have routinely beaten their ideological opponents, usually in spontaneous mob violence during rallies, including a man on Saturday who was pummeled unconscious and stripped.
Ho has become one of the most loathed establishment figures among democracy protesters.
He has long been one of the most stridently pro-Beijing politicians in the territory, but he shot to notoriety on July 21 after he was filmed in Yuen Long district shaking hands with a group of men who went on to beat protesters with sticks and poles, hospitalizing 40 people.
He has delivered multiple speeches supporting Hong Kong’s police force and echoing Beijing’s condemnations of protesters, often using incendiary language.
He last month accused prominent pro-democracy Hong Kong Legislator Claudia Mo (毛孟靜) of “eating foreign sausage” because she is married to a British journalist.
After the Yuen Long attack, Ho’s office was ransacked by protesters and the graves of his parents were also vandalized.
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