Hong Kong Law & Crime Politics & Protest

Hong Kong police deploy tear gas, rubber bullets against protesters as gov’t slams ‘direct challenge to national sovereignty’

Police in riot gear deployed rubber bullets and multiple rounds of tear gas against protesters occupying Connaught Road in Sheung Wan on Sunday.

july 21 china extradition

Photo: InMediahk.net.

The clearance operation near Shun Tak Centre comes hours after a largely peaceful march on Sunday against the government’s suspended extradition bill.

july 21 china extradition (19)

Photo: May James/HKFP.

Officers had raised black banners warning protesters of the use of tear gas before firing rounds into the crowd.

july 21 china extradition (19)

Photo: May James/HKFP.

An orange flag warning crowds of the use of rubber bullets was raised shortly after.

july 21 china extradition (19)

Photo: May James/HKFP.

Those on the frontlines retreated shortly after, while some continued to throw objects at the police from a distance.

july 21 china extradition

Photo: May James/HKFP.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui arrived on the scene, urging police to show restraint and not panic protesters.

Earlier in the day, protesters hurled eggs and balloons filled with ink at the China Liaison Office in Sai Wan, in a move that prompted condemnation from the government as a challenge to national sovereignty.

liaison office july 21 china extradition

Photo: May James/HKFP.

“The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government strongly condemns the protesters who blatantly challenged the national sovereignty by maliciously besieging and storming the [Liaison Office] building as well as defacing the national emblem. The HKSAR Government will deal with these acts in a serious manner in accordance with the law,” a government spokesperson said.”

Photo: May James/HKFP.

The police declared a clearance operation would take place at 8.07pm.

july 21 china extradition

Photo: May James/HKFP.

As of 11pm, protesters continue to occupy major thoroughfares stretching from Harcourt Road in Central to Sheung Wan, many of which remain blocked by barricades which are chained together.

july 21 china extradition

Photo: May James/HKFP.

Police issued a statement urging demonstrators to disperse: “Police appeal to the protestors at [the] scene to stop charging Police cordon lines and leave immediately. Other members of the public and residents nearby should mind their own safety, avoid travelling to that district and stay safe.”

july 21 china extradition

Photo: May James/HKFP.

Organisers of Sunday’s protest, the Civil Human Rights Front, said 430,000 people participated. Police said 138,000 joined at its peak.

july 21 china extradition

Photo: May James/HKFP.

The march took aim at a controversial extradition bill which would allow the city to handle case-by-case fugitive transfers to jurisdictions with no prior arrangements, including China, sparking public concerns over human rights in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong police deploy tear gas, rubber bullets against protesters as gov't slams 'direct challenge to national sovereignty'