The anti-China protesters of Hong Kong had a brief confrontation with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops in Hong Kong on Sunday night. Tensions were escalated as it was the first direct interaction between the PLA and protesters.
On Sunday, hundreds of protesters shone laser lights on the barracks of the PLA in Kowloon. The PLA instantly warned protesters by raising a yellow flag on the roof. On the flag was written a phrase both in Putonghua and English, saying “You’re violating law. You may be prosecuted.” Later on, the PLA issued a voiced warning in Cantonese that the protesters “must take full responsibility for the consequences of their actions.”
The troops monitored protesters with cameras and watched their movements closely. As protesters left the barracks soon, there was no direct conflict between the two sides. The South China Morning Post reported that the Chinese military “issued unprecedented warnings” to Hong Kong protesters. Some express concern that a shooting or a violent suppression by the PLA could nudge the situation into an entirely unpredictable direction.
The conflict over the ban on face masks, which started on Saturday, has been intensifying as well. On Monday, the Hong Kong police brought the first charges under the anti-mask law to an 18-year-old college student and a 38-year-old woman. The two were arrested on early Saturday morning while protesting with masks on. Starting from Tuesday, Hong Kong’s education authorities ordered the heads of middle and high schools across the city to submit the list of students who “wear a mask at school, refuse to attend classes, form a human chain or chant for protest.” On Sunday, the Hong Kong police broke into the premises of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Baptist University to arrest protesters, and they are reportedly making indiscriminate arrests of random citizens wearing a mask.
The Hong Kong metro operated only 39 lines out of a total 94 on Monday morning. Starting from 6 p.m., the entire lines were shut down for maintenance, turning the territory into a ghost city. Large shopping malls were closed, and major supermarkets reduced working hours. Against this backdrop, many grocery stores were packed with people looking for food and daily necessities and saw their shelves emptying instantly. Some citizens described the scene as “wartime atmosphere.”
Wan-Jun Yun firstname.lastname@example.org