Asia Pacific

Knife-wielding man attacks pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho at Hong Kong event

Reuters,

AP

A knife-wielding man on Wednesday attacked a pro-Beijing lawmaker who has taken a tough stand against anti-government protests in Hong Kong, police said.

Legislator Junius Ho, his assistant and the alleged attacker were taken to the hospital following the assault in Tuen Mun on Wednesday morning, police said.

Ho told reporters after an initial treatment that the stab left a minor 2-centimeter-deep wound, blocked by his rib cage.

A video circulating on social media showed a young man giving flowers to Ho before asking permission to snap a picture with him. He drew a knife from his bag and stabbed Ho’s chest but was quickly overpowered by Ho and several others.

The man kept hurling abuses at Ho, calling him “human scum.”

Ho has become a hate figure in the protest movement over his alleged links with armed masked men in white T-shirts who had violently attacked demonstrators and passengers at a subway station in northern Yuen Long on July 21. At least 45 people were injured in the attack, which marked a dark turn in the unrest and raised accusations that police, who were slow to arrive, colluded with the attackers.

Police later said members of triad gangs, a branch of organized crime, were involved in the attack. Ho was seen shaking hands with some of the attackers that night.

Ho, whose constituency includes Yuen Long, denied colluding with triads. He claimed he bumped into the men after dinner and had thanked them for “defending their homes” but claimed he didn’t know about the violence until later.

Protesters have thrashed Ho’s office several times and desecrated his parents’ graves.

Just hours after the stabbing, a senior Chinese official said Beijing supports bolder measures to tackle the roots of the unrest.

Han Zheng, China’s vice premier, said at an official meeting with embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam in Beijing that anti-government protests are damaging the “one country, two systems” formula under which the city has been governed since its hand-over from Britain to Beijing in 1997.

“We firmly support the Special Administrative Region government to adopt more proactive and more effective measures to solve the social problems,” Han said as he sat next to Lam in a meeting room in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.

Han said the social problems included unaffordable housing in the city, which is classified as a special region of China.China’s Communist Party said on Tuesday it would not tolerate any “separatist behavior” after some protesters called for independence. Han said the violence had exceeded the “bottom line” of the rule law and of morality.

What started as agitation against a now-scrapped extradition bill, which would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial, has widened into calls for full democracy.

Protesters are demanding an end to perceived Chinese meddling in the territory’s affairs, as well as universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, among other demands.

Beijing denies interfering and blames foreign governments for fueling the unrest.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met Lam in Shanghai on Tuesday, vouching support for her administration.

Following the meeting, Lam denied rumors that the government is considering an amnesty for protesters charged with offenses. Xi and Lam unexpectedly held talks Monday night on the sidelines of a trade event in Shanghai amid signals from China’s central government that it may tighten its grip on Hong Kong to quell the unrest.

Lam said she was disturbed by mounting injuries during the protests, including an incident early Monday that left a 22-year-old university student sprawled in a pool of blood at a parking-lot building after police fired tear gas. Hospital officials said the victim was in critical condition.

Lam said investigations will be carried out to determine exactly what happened, and said the case drove home the government’s message that violence must cease.

Television footage showed riot police firing tear-gas canisters at the building after objects were hurled down at the street at them when they chased off a mob. Minutes later, medical workers found the unconscious student on the second floor of the building.

Senior police official Suzette Foo said late Tuesday that the young man had reportedly fallen from an upper floor, but that it wasn’t captured by security surveillance cameras. She didn’t rule out the possibility that he was fleeing from tear gas but noted that police fired from a distance. She also rebutted online claims that police pushed the victim down.

Hundreds of black-clad demonstrators wearing Guy Fawkes masks rallied Tuesday night in the busy Tsim Sha Tsui district to mark the one-month anniversary of a government ban on facial coverings at rallies. Some protesters vandalized shops and set up road barriers as they marched along streets.

China’s Communist Party last week indicated it may try to find a way to enact anti-subversion laws in Hong Kong, after such measures were shelved previously due to public opposition.

More than 3,300 people have been arrested since the protests began.

In a bloody incident Sunday night, a knife-wielding man believed to be a Beijing supporter slashed two people after an argument and bit off part of a local politician’s ear outside a mall. Police have arrested the assailant and two men who attacked him.

Cheung said the government plans to hold a second community dialogue after Nov. 24 district elections. Lam held her first town hall meeting on Sept. 26, but was criticized by angry residents.

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