Tensions in Hong Kong soared yesterday after police were seen unloading boxes of tear gas and rubber bullets close to the territory’s besieged government headquarters as the authorities urged pro-democracy demonstrators to disperse “as soon as possible.”
Protesters have shut down central areas of the territory with a mass sit-in, including outside the Legislative Council building, and had given Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (梁振英) until midnight last night to step down, or face escalated action.
China backed the territory’s embattled leader, saying it was behind Leung “firmly and unshakably” and pledged support for the police as protesters prepared for a fifth night on the barricades.
Days of peaceful demonstrations have seen tens of thousands of people take over Hong Kong’s usually traffic-heavy streets as they demand Beijing grant fully free elections in the semi-autonomous territory.
Last month, China said Hong Kongers would be able to vote for their next leader in 2017, but only those vetted by a loyalist committee would be allowed to stand — something demonstrators have dismissed as a “fake democracy.”
Hong Kong authorities said yesterday they wanted the streets cleared around the government headquarters, with more than 3,000 civil servants expected to return to the headquarters after a two-day public holiday.
In a statement, officials called on protesters “not to block the access there and to disperse peacefully as soon as possible.”
The late afternoon resupply by police officers caused widespread alarm among protesters as their leaders issued fresh calls for people to swell their ranks.
Pictures shared widely on social media and television showed one barrel with the words “round, 38mm rubber baton multi” written on it. Another had “1.5 in CS” emblazoned on it, a possible reference to CS gas.
The Chinese Communist Party has shown no sign of bowing to protesters’ twin demands. An editorial in party mouthpiece the People’s Daily yesterday warned against chaos in the territory, adding that Beijing supported “the police of the special territory in handling these illegal protests according to the law.”
The demonstrators consider Leung a Beijing stooge and protest leaders wanted yesterday’s ultimatum to be met.
“We will consider having different operating actions in future days, including occupying other places, like important government offices,” said Agnes Chow (周庭) of the student movement Scholarism.
Analysts say it is unlikely that Leung will step down, in what would be a massive loss of face for the establishment.
“If Beijing forces him to resign, they will be seen to be buckling under pressure from the protesters. They might give out signals that he has been sidelined, but the likelihood of his immediate dismissal... is not very high,” said Willy Lam (林和立), Chinese University of Hong Kong professor.
However, Lam added that the longer the protests affect Hong Kong, the more pressure Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) would be under to act.
COMMITMENT: The world’s biggest contract chipmaker said that its new 2nm chips, as well as next-generation, cutting-edge 1.4nm chips, will be produced in Taiwan Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday said that the majority of its most advanced chips would continue to be manufactured in Taiwan and that it is boosting advanced chip packaging capacity to catch up with fast-growing demand driven by generative artificial intelligence (AI) applications like ChatGPT. Deeply rooted in Taiwan, TSMC is expanding production capacity for its most advanced 3-nanometer (nm) chips at its Tainan fab and is building new plants to produce new 2-nanometer chips in Hsinchu and Taichung in 2025. The chipmaker also plans to produce next-generation, cutting-edge 1.4-nanometer chips, which are currently under development, at home, it
PASSAGE DISPUTE: A US and Canadian transit was a provocation and an attempt to ‘exercise hegemony of navigation,’ China’s defense ministry told a forum in Singapore The Ministry of National Defense yesterday urged the Chinese Communist Party to avoid provocative behavior after a Chinese navy ship crossed the paths of a US destroyer and Canadian frigate transiting the Taiwan Strait. A Chinese ship on Saturday “executed maneuvers in an unsafe manner in the vicinity of [the USS] Chung-Hoon,” an American destroyer, the US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement. The vessel “overtook Chung-Hoon on their port side and crossed their bow at 150 yards [137m]. Chung-Hoon maintained course and slowed to 10 [knots, 18.5kph] to avoid a collision,” the statement said. It then “crossed Chung-Hoon’s bow a second time
HARD-WON FREEDOM: Beijing’s 1989 crackdown on protesters has not been and should not be forgotten, as China tightens its grip on Hong Kong, Lai said Taiwanese enjoy democracy and freedom and have multiple ways to express their creativity, and hopefully young people in China would also one day have the freedom to sing and express themselves, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday, commemorating the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Yesterday was the 34th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s bloody crackdown on student-led protests in Beijing in 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident. Tsai posted a photograph taken in March in a subway station in Guizhou, China, where hundreds of young people gathered to sing People With No Ideals Don’t Get Hurt (沒有理想的人不傷心), saying that they
GUILTY AS CHARGED: Chen Hsueh-sheng repeatedly pressed his belly against a DPP lawmaker and made derogatory remarks when confronted over his behavior The Taipei District Court yesterday upheld a verdict against Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chen Hsueh-sheng (陳雪生), finding him liable for sexually harassing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Fan Yun (范雲) during a physical altercation on the legislative floor in 2020. The DPP lawmaker accused Chen of pressing his belly against her back three times in a sexually suggestive manner during a scuffle between lawmakers from both parties. Chen must pay Fan NT$80,000 in damages as stipulated by a summary ruling of the district court at the first trial, the court said in a news release. The verdict is final as the