At the technical university in Hong Kong, there were hard confrontations between demonstrators and agents on Sunday morning. A policeman would have been shot at by someone with a bow and arrow and hit in the leg. A few hours earlier, Chinese soldiers “voluntarily” helped clean up the largest troop in the city.
Part of the campus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) looks like a fortress behind which the campaigners have entrenched themselves. Campaigners throw incendiary bombs at the agents who in turn throw back tear gas. The Polytechnic University is one of the five universities in the city that activists use as a base camp. Various universities have canceled the lessons for the rest of the calendar year.
On Saturday evening, Chinese soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army showed up on the streets of Hong Kong for the first time since the protests began. Dressed in shorts and T-shirts, they helped the locals clean up the streets and break down barricades.
The Hong Kong administration has not asked for military support. The soldiers operated “as voluntary civilians,” said a spokesperson for the city. Pro-democratic legislators have condemned the action of the People’s Liberation Army. The presence of Chinese soldiers on the streets of Hong Kong is controversial because their arrival goes against the autonomous status of the special administrative region.
The situation in Hong Kong escalated in the past week. The immediate reason for this was the death of a 22-year-old demonstrator. Although it is not exactly clear what happened, protesters blame the police.
Road users in several places in Hong Kong suffer from the blockades of demonstrators. At several campuses, activists are preparing for possible confrontations with riot police. They do this for example by collecting food and weapons and building with brick barricades.
Since the protests began in June, many young people have been taking part. This is a generation that grew up in a Hong Kong that is part of China as an autonomous region, but is not afraid to resist Beijing.
Pupils and students previously played an important role in the mass protests in 2012 and 2014. They are now protesting for more democracy in Hong Kong and less influence from Beijing. A few months ago, the demonstrators succeeded in forcing the government to withdraw a controversial extradition bill.