Hong Kong protesters disrupt commute after US Senate vote

Several of Hong Kong's rail services were suspended or slowed as activists answered calls to again disrupt the morning commute.
Several of Hong Kong's rail services were suspended or slowed as activists answered calls to again disrupt the morning commute.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM RTHK VNEWS/FACEBOOK
A protester with bow and arrow looks for police at the besieged Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov 20, 2019.
A protester with bow and arrow looks for police at the besieged Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov 20, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Demonstrators carried out a new wave of transit disruptions in Hong Kong on Wednesday (Nov 20), as the protest-stricken financial hub attempted to return to normalcy after days of roadblocks, sieges and pitched street battles.

Protesters were attempting to maintain momentum in an offensive that has raged since a student died of injuries suffered near a demonstration almost two weeks ago.

Several of Hong Kong's rail services were suspended or slowed as activists answered calls to again disrupt the morning commute.

Trains between East Tsim Sha Tsui and Tuen Mun stations on the West Rail Line were running at eight-minute intervals due to damage and train door obstructions at various stations, MTR Corp said on its website.

On the West Rail Line, service between Hung Hom and East Tsim Sha Tsui was suspended and trains weren't stopping at Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai stations.

On the East Rail Line, Hung Hom to Mong Kok East station services were suspended due to damage. Service between Mong Kok East and Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau stations was running at reduced intervals and trains weren't stopping at University station.

MTR Corp said extra travelling time was required on the Island, Tsuen Wan, Kwun Tong and Tseung Kwan O lines due to door obstructions and passengers requesting assistance.

The pro-democracy movement received a boost from Washington, as the US Senate unanimously passed a Bill supporting them and warning China against a violent suppression of the protests.

The city has been gripped for days by a stand-off at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where a few dozen hardcore protesters remained holed up on Tuesday night despite leader Carrie Lam's demands for them to peacefully surrender.

The protests began in June with largely peaceful marches against legislation allowing extraditions to mainland China and have since mushroomed into a broader push for demands including an independent probe into police violence and the ability to nominate and elect city leaders.

The legislation that passed the Senate on Tuesday in Washington still needs approval from the US House and the President to take effect.

 
 
 
 

The vote marks a challenge to the government in Beijing just as the US and China, the world's largest economies, seek to close a preliminary agreement to end their trade war.

The Senate measure would require annual reviews of Hong Kong's special status under US law to assess the extent to which China has chipped away at the city's autonomy.

China repeated its threat to retaliate if the US follows through and makes the Bill supporting Hong Kong protesters into law.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang urged the US to take immediate measures to prevent the Bill from becoming law.

Separately, the Hong Kong government expressed "extreme regret" over the Senate action, calling the legislation "unfounded" and "unnecessary".

Hong Kong Chief Executive Lam said in a Facebook post that, as of 8pm local time on Tuesday, about 300 minors under the age of 18 had "safely" left the PolyU campus. She urged any remaining minors to leave under the arrangement with police.

The city's government subsequently issued a statement saying that as of 11pm local time on Tuesday, 800 people in total had left the university, with almost 300 of them under the age of 18.

A further 10 masked protesters who attempted to leave forcefully were arrested, according to the statement.

Separately, 10 people left the campus accompanied by medics, while 20 first-aid volunteers walked out in an orderly manner with a lawmaker and a lawyer.

PolyU has requested that police not enter its campus for the time being so that people who remain can be given the chance to leave in a peaceful and orderly manner, according to a statement on the school's website.

Meanwhile, former Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho was attacked outside Tin Hau station on Hong Kong Island on Tuesday, according to Apple Daily.

He went to hospital for treatment, the report said. Mr Ho was singled out by China as one of the "gang of four" behind the city's protests.