Connect with us

World News

The Weekly | How a Hong Kong Campus Became a Fiery Battlefield

Published

on

Loading...


Producer/Director Andréa Schmidt

Protesters clutching smartphones and wearing masks took to the streets. Armor-clad riot police fired water cannons and tear gas to reassert authority. For months, the two sides clashed in a spate of increasingly violent confrontations at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The siege of PolyU last November was the climax of intense confrontations between the Hong Kong police, who had exhausted their tolerance for dissent, and protesters who refused to give up their freedoms without a fight.

Watch video from the front lines at PolyU as the area was turned into an urban battlefield. Listen to masked protesters, too frightened to speak openly, describe on camera how they barricaded themselves inside university buildings and desperately tried to escape days after riot police stormed the school.

Reporters and editors in The New York Times’s Hong Kong and Beijing bureaus collaborated with members of our visual investigations team to reconstruct the chaotic events leading up to the siege of PolyU for this episode of “The Weekly.” They include Keith Bradsher, the Shanghai bureau chief who used to be the bureau chief in Hong Kong; Javier C. Hernández, a correspondent in Beijing; Barbara Marcolini of the visual investigations team; Tiffany May, who is based in the Hong Kong bureau; Edward Wong, a diplomatic and international correspondent in Washington who previously served as Beijing bureau chief; and Gillian Wong, The Times’s China editor in Hong Kong.

A wide cross-section of Hong Kong society supports the protests, but young residents of the territory are the ones driving the movement and going daily to the front lines. Many of them grew up in Hong Kong after the 1997 handover and watched as rule of law, freedom of speech and other rights they had thought were guaranteed by Hong Kong’s semiautonomous status slowly eroded under Communist Party rule.

President Xi Jinping is the most authoritarian leader to rule China since Mao, and the constraints he has imposed across the mainland are also felt in Hong Kong. As the protests have intensified, he has shown he has no intention of giving in to the demonstrators or of withdrawing his support for the territory’s much-criticized chief executive, Carrie Lam.

The protesters have become as focused now on police brutality as they are on wider political demands. The police have become more forceful in trying to stop the protests, and this has led to more demonstrations against the police, forming a cycle that has been hard to break.

The protests started peacefully, but grew more contentious and quickly divided and disrupted the city. Nearly one in seven Hong Kong residents were reported to have turned out to protest the extradition bill. As the police cracked down, some of the protesters grew increasingly aggressive and were accused of rioting — a crime that’s punished with up to 10 years in prison. Many of the protesters wore masks, to protect themselves from pepper spray and tear gas, and to conceal their identities from authorities. The protesters who agreed to speak to “The Weekly” about their experiences did so only if they wouldn’t be identified.

Loading...

Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the site of the fiercest violence between the police and protesters, opened for two weeks after the siege but closed again two weeks later. Other schools and universities in the city have also been closed until March in a measure to help contain the coronavirus. PolyU will conduct online classes.

The protest movement persists, but it’s taken a hit. Tens of thousands of protesters marched on New Year’s Day in a mass rally that lasted only 20 minutes before the police fired tear gas to break it up. Since then, protesters such as “Wallace,” the 19 year-old student you meet in our episode, have stepped back as the city grapples with the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak. Still, protesters continue to clash with the police, and protesters have been expressing their discontent about the government’s handling of the potential health crisis. A new hospital workers union that formed out of the protest movement went on strike, demanding that Hong Kong’s leaders do more to contain the coronavirus, including a ban on all entries from mainland China.

President Xi Jinping of China called for stability in Hong Kong during his New Year’s address. He has since come under new public scrutiny over the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, another crisis that has threatened the country’s stability.

Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, is again the target of a great deal of public anger, this time over the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak elsewhere in mainland China. Residents are upset over a shortage of protective face masks in Hong Kong, and Mrs. Lam’s reluctance to implement stricter controls on travel from mainland China.

Senior Story Editors Dan Barry, Liz O. Baylen, and Liz Day
Supervising Producer Singeli Agnew
Director of Photography Victor Tadashi Suarez
Video Editor Pierre Takal
Senior Coordinating Producer Sameen Amin
Photographer Lam Fei Yak
Associate Producer Abdulai Bah
Post Associate Producer Valerie Shenkman, Wesley Harris
Archival Producer Gini Richards
Associate Archive Producer Timothy Duffy
Field Producers Sharon Yeung
Additional Reporting Ezra Cheung, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Elaine Yu, and Haley Willis



Source link

Comments

comments

Loading...
Advertisement
Loading...
Loading...

Facebook

Loading...

Trending

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com