AFP, published on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 18:42
The protesters further intensified Wednesday their all-out actions in Hong Kong under a new tactic, "the generalized outbreak", which aims to paralyze the ex-British colony to the maximum, theater for three days of scenes of a rare violence.
This new strategy, which is reflected in a proliferation of hotbeds of protest, has resulted in the closure of shopping centers, schools and many subway stations vital to the operation of the city. To the point that a police official estimated that this megacity of 7.5 million inhabitants was "on the verge of total collapse".
It has been five months since Hong Kong suffered its worst political crisis since its return to Beijing in 1997. And the determination of the demonstrators calling for democratic reforms echoes the intransigence of the local executive and the Chinese central government. They kept saying they would not give in to street pressure.
On Wednesday, for the third day in a row, barricades blocked traffic in many neighborhoods. Packing bicycles, metal barriers, garbage cans and anything else they could find, the protesters targeted the arteries of the employees who joined their workplaces very early.
And for the third day in a row, several metro lines, usually very efficient in carrying more than four million people daily, were closed as a result of vandalism.
– Chinese students are fleeing –
In order to get back to work, the people of Hong Kong had to wait in line for long hours to wait for buses or taxis.
In Central, where many foreign companies have their offices, employees took advantage of their lunch break to support the radicals holding barricades at the edge of luxury shops.
On university campuses, protesters dressed in black remained mobilized in tense face-to-face encounters after a night of violence with the police.
Authorities said a total of 58 people were hospitalized on Wednesday following incidents, including one, a 70-year-old man with a brick bruise, according to media reports, in critical condition.
Sign of concern about the sudden worsening of the situation in the semi-autonomous region, students from mainland China have started to flee Hong Kong by bus, or even by boat, lamented the police and universities. However, the number of parties left was not known at the moment.
Many foreign students residing on some campuses have been evacuated to hotels.
The renewed tensions in Hong Kong can be explained in particular by the adoption by the demonstrators of a new tactic, known as "the generalized outbreak".
The idea is to maximize the capabilities of the police by multiplying smaller actions, but now in a maximum of places. And this constantly, whereas previously the actions took place mainly in the evenings and weekends.
– "This madness" –
Since Monday, small groups trigger simultaneous actions in a multitude of neighborhoods, raising barricades, blocking crossroads, sacking subway stations and favorable Beijing shops and, most importantly, provoking the police.
"The intention of the rioters is to push Hong Kong to collapse completely, no excuse, no political reason can justify or glorify this madness," police spokesman John Tse told reporters on Wednesday.
The day before, one of his colleagues had seen Hong Kong "on the brink of total collapse".
Already strained since the death of a 22-year-old student who had fallen from a parking lot on Friday, the situation deteriorated further on Monday morning when a policeman injured a unarmed protester, still in a state critical.
This is the third confirmed case of a protester hit by a real-life police fire since June.
The shot, filmed and broadcast live on Facebook, has exacerbated the anger of protesters who have long denounced the brutality of the police response.
– Elections of 24 November –
Critics have also been criticized for the violence of some protesters. On Monday, a 57-year-old man was sprayed with flammable liquid by a protester with whom he quarreled and turned into a human torch. He is also always in critical condition.
The Chinese government has sent disturbing signals that it wants to reduce Hong Kong's freedoms and strengthen security measures.
On Tuesday, the People's Daily, the governing body of the Communist Party, said the local elections scheduled for November 24 could be canceled if the protesters did not give in.
Chinese state newspapers also pointed out that the People's Liberation Army (PLA), which has a garrison in Hong Kong, was on hand to support, if necessary, the Hong Kong police, whom they hailed as "restraint. ".
China, however, is not yet ready to take such drastic measures as a military intervention, said Ben Bland, the director of the Southeast Asia Project at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based political think-tank.
According to him, she seems rather to bet on the long-term weakening of the movement and on her capacity for intimidation.