Police Officer Is Stabbed in Hong Kong During Flash-Mob Protests


A police officer was stabbed in Hong Kong on Sunday, police officials said, in what appeared to be an escalation of the street violence that has gripped the city for months, as flash-mob gatherings unfolded across town.

The gatherings, in more than half of the semiautonomous Chinese territory’s 18 districts, were the first significant unrest since Hong Kong was convulsed by violence a week earlier over opposition to a ban on face masks at public gatherings.

The unrest included attacks on the subway system and on businesses that protesters perceive to be supportive of Beijing. The police force said on Sunday that a protester had stabbed one of its officers in the neck, and that his condition was stable.

The rowdy gatherings on Sunday — coordinated via social media and encrypted messaging apps — highlighted the continuing opposition to the unpopular ban on wearing face masks and capped a momentous week in China’s relationship with the United States.

The Hong Kong police said one of its officers had been slashed in the neck by a protester on Sunday evening with a “sharp-edged” object, and that two people were immediately arrested at the scene. Video of the incident circulating widely on social media appeared to show that the attack was unprovoked.

The police said the officer was conscious when he arrived at a hospital.

The South China Morning Post newspaper also reported that a man who protesters suspected being an undercover officer was attacked on Sunday in the Tseung Kwan O district, before other officers dispersed them.

China has increasingly depicted the protest movement in Hong Kong as being separatist in nature even though the demonstrators’ demands do not include a call for independence.

China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, in a meeting with the Nepalese prime minister on Sunday, delivered a stark warning against separatism that was likely targeted at advocates of Tibetan independence but could also be read as a signal to Hong Kong.

“Anyone attempting to split any part of China will only be ruined; any external force supporting the separation of China will only be regarded as a delusion by the Chinese people!” Mr. Xi was quoted as saying in a report by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Sunday’s unrest began suddenly in the afternoon, after a morning of relative calm in the city, and had been promoted on social media under the slogan “blossom everywhere.”

“The more widespread today’s operation is, the more difficult it is for the police to chase us down,” Andy Wong, a 19-year-old university student majoring in Chinese literature, said on the fringes of a flash-mob gathering in the Sha Tin district.

In a video circulating widely on Sunday afternoon, a masked protester is seen taking a flying leap to kick a riot officer, who was apparently trying to arrest another protester near a shopping center in the working-class Mong Kok neighborhood.

Protesters also vandalized a range of targets across the city on Sunday, including a Bank of China branch, offices of pro-Beijing political parties and at least two Starbucks.

Starbucks became a target for protesters when Annie Wu, the daughter of the founder of Maxim’s Group, a conglomerate that licenses the coffee chain in the city, called protesters “radical” in a September speech at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

On Sunday, protesters broke into a shuttered Starbucks at a mall in the Tai Koo district and spray-painted “black heart” on its wooden countertop — a play on “beautiful heart,” a direct translation of the Maxim’s name in Chinese. Spokespeople for Starbucks and Maxim’s Group did not immediately return requests for comment.

Ben Chan, 47, who lives near the mall, said the vandalism didn’t bother or surprise him, and that he supported the young protesters behind it.

“Lots of people here support democracy,” he said. “The kids are well educated, and they fight for what they want.”

Reporting was contributed by Austin Ramzy and Elaine Yu from Hong Kong, and Edward Wong from Washington. Claire Fu contributed research from Beijing.



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