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Parades and protest

Revelers in Beijing celebrate China’s anniversary while demonstrators in Hong Kong protest Communist encroachment

Parades and protest

Police arrive to chase away anti-government protesters in Hong Kong on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

After a day of protests and violence—including a police shooting of one protester—on Tuesday, Janis Fung looked at the devastation in the typically busy Hong Kong business district and said she felt more hurt than shock to see her homeland in such a state: “In my 30 years, I’ve never seen Hong Kong like this. We see how the government and police are treating the citizens, and it just doesn’t make any sense.”

Tuesday marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China. Beijing held a military parade at Tiananmen filled with goose-stepping soldiers, displays of China’s military weapons, happy dancing children, and a speech by President Xi Jinping in an attempt to show off progress under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule.

Yet in Hong Kong, China’s freest city, a different kind of parade filled the streets. In six different districts, tens of thousands of protesters marched and battled police in the most violent day of the 17-week protest. In a shocking escalation, police shot an 18-year-old in the chest with a live round at close range. Sixty-five others were also injured.

AP photos/Ng Han Guan (left); Vincent Yu

In Beijing on Tuesday, participants commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China (left); in Hong Kong, thousands of protesters defy a police ban and marched for democracy (AP photos/Ng Han Guan (left); Vincent Yu)

Tuesday was also the first time Fung joined the group Protect the Children, which works on the front line of protests to de-escalate tense situations between the protesters and police. “My Christian faith tells me to love others rather than hurt them. Right now the police [are] using a disproportionate amount of force: It’s not just or wise, it’s illegal. So I feel we need to protect the children,” she said, referring to the young protesters.

The Hong Kong government rejected march organizers’ proposal to hold protests during China’s National Day and closed more than two dozen subway stations to halt transportation to protest sites. Yet according to organizers, at least 100,000 protesters came out to call for democracy in Hong Kong while decrying police brutality and China’s encroachment in the city. Protesters threw joss paper—traditionally burned for the dead—in the air to symbolize the death of Hong Kong. Walking down the streets, they chanted “Five demands, not one less” and “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”

While the protests started peacefully, more hardcore protesters defaced businesses owned by Chinese companies, pried bricks and fences out of the sidewalks to create barricades, and lit trash cans and piles of wood on fire in the middle of roads. In multiple clashes with police, protesters threw Molotov cocktails and bricks at officers, while police fired rounds of tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons. Later, protesters also shot fireworks at the police.

AP Photo/Vincent Thian

Black-clad protesters take position on a road in Hong Kong on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

While police had shot live rounds as warnings in the past, Tuesday was the first time they aimed at a protester. In a video depicting the incident, which occurred in Tuen Wan in the New Territories region, a group of protesters pinned a police officer to the ground as another officer came at them with his gun drawn. The teenage protester hit the officer in the arm with a metal rod, and the officer shot him in the chest. According to South China Morning Post, the 18-year-old was in critical condition late Tuesday.

Near a government building on Hong Kong island, tear gas canisters arched through the skies, one landing in a burst of sparks as a protester in a gas mask quickly poured water to extinguish it. Some used gloves to throw the canisters back at police while others protected themselves with umbrellas. Protesters began to retreat as medical volunteers rushed to help wash protesters’ eyes with saline solution to ease the stinging.

June Cheng

A fire burns on a Hong Kong street during protests (June Cheng)

Nearby, protesters had started multiple fires—several in the middle of the road, another at the entrance of Admiralty subway station. Protesters began yelling that a water cannon was heading over to the group, so two protesters shielded themselves with a wooden board and threw Molotov cocktails to stop the truck’s approach. Still, the truck barreled forward and the mass of protesters ran away as the cannon sprayed blue-dyed water to mark protesters. Elite riot police then charged at the protesters, many of whom escaped down different streets.

By the end of the night, the main road on Hong Kong island resembled the aftermath of a parade. But instead of confetti, protesters left joss paper strewn on the road. Instead of festive decoration, protesters graffitied anti-CCP messages and pasted posters skewering Xi onto the buildings. Discarded barricades and bricks, burned-out trash cans, and trash littered the ground.

June Cheng

June Cheng

June is a reporter for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and covers East Asia, including China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Follow June on Twitter @JuneCheng_World.