Local media outlets have claimed that police will procure new rubber bullets with increased range in anticipation of possible public disorder on the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China.
Ming Pao reported on Tuesday that the new bullets would have a range of 50 metres, a significant increase compared to the 10 metre-range bullets used by the police force at present.
At present, the US and French-made rubber bullets are reportedly being tested by the police tactical unit in Fanling, New Territories.
The police’s emergency unit will also reportedly adopt the AR-15 automatic rifle, a weapon with a range of around 500 metres, as part of its regular equipment.
Ming Pao said that the police was “rushing to procure [the equipment] before the handover.” The purchases were made in anticipation of the possibility that Chinese state leaders would visit Hong Kong, and the possibility that rioting would occur. The 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China falls on July 1, 2017.
The Hong Kong police have introduced new weaponry and equipment following the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests and the 2016 Mong Kok unrest. They invited bidders to supply water cannons, and reportedly plan to purchase pepper balls.
The Hong Kong Police Force did not respond to HKFP’s request for comment at the time of publication.
Update: The Hong Kong Police Force told HKFP that it does not comment on details regarding equipment and deployment. It said that it procures suitable items and equipment from time to time to meet operational requirements.