After midnight, the Hong Kong government condemned the attacks in a statement: “This is absolutely unacceptable to Hong Kong as a society that observes the rule of law. The [government] strongly condemns any violence and will seriously take enforcement actions.”
Yet Hong Kong residents were riled by the police officers’ slow response. They also questioned why pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-Yiu was seen in a video shaking hands with men in white shirts that night. Ho distanced himself from the attacks, but said the incident was a “normal reaction to protesters who brought violence to the peaceful community after they stormed the liaison office,” according to the Post. The next day protesters vandalized and broke the glass walls in Ho’s office.
This isn’t the first time pro-Beijing forces are suspected of using members of Hong Kong’s organized criminal gangs—also known as triads—to intimidate protesters: During the 2014 Umbrella Movement, mobs that included triad members attacked protesters in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, tearing down tents and beating protesters and journalists. At the time, pro-democracy politician Albert Ho told AFP that Chinese Communists “use triads or pro-government mobs to try to attack you so the government will not have to assume responsibility.”
Earlier on Sunday, 430,000 people joined a protest calling for an independent investigation into police brutality during the June 12 protest against the extradition bill, according to event organizers. But a few thousand protesters remained after the official protest ended, defacing the liaison office, The New York Times reported. In clashes around the area, riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets as protesters threw projectiles.
While Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has suspended the extradition bill, she still has not fully withdrawn the measure, and she refuses to step down. Joshua Wong, a 22-year-old protest leader released from prison last month for his role in the Umbrella Movement, argues that people are fed up with a government that does not care about its people. He says they are fearful of the future, with Hong Kong scheduled to fully return to Chinese control in 2047.
“Events in Hong Kong are about so much more than the bill, more than Lam, more even than democracy,” Wong tweeted on July 2. “They all matter of course. But in the end it is about the future of Hong Kong beyond 2047, a future that belongs to our generation.”
While the government of China claims a national population of 1.4 billion people, the actual number could be 115 million fewer, making the country smaller than India, according to social scientist Yi Fuxian. He believes that the government fixed the number to hide the demographic drop due to forced family planning policies, and that schools inflate the number of students to receive more education subsidies.