China’s state-run Xinhua “news” service described Hong Kong police shooting an unarmed teen on Tuesday as “totally legal, legitimate, and appropriate,” because the young man was a pro-democracy protester.
The victim, identified as 18-year-old student Tsang Chi-kin, was shot in the chest for participating in a “day of mourning” against communism in the southern port city. Tuesday was the 70th anniversary of the founding of communist China – the occasion for a spectacular, 100,000-person parade in Beijing. Hong Kong was forced to cancel the annual fireworks to prevent embarrassment by pro-democracy protesters.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam was in Beijing on Tuesday as police shot Tsang.
Hong Kong police insist that the office who used live fire to tear into Tsang’s chest was in danger from “rioters'” attacks and had to defend his life and those of his peers. Police referred to Tsang as an “attacker” despite the lack of evidence that he was wielding a weapon or antagonizing police.
The Hong Kong protest movement erupted in June against a proposed bill to allow China to extradite anyone out of Hong Kong and disppear them into the Communist Party’s notorious torture prisons. Lam conceded the withdrawal of the extradition bill, but Hong Kong residents are still demanding the right to elect all of their lawmakers, freedom for political prisoners, an investigation into police brutality, and an end to officials referring to peaceful protesters as “rioters.”
“The life of the officer at the scene was under serious threat and he was forced to shoot at the assailant to protect his own life as well as his colleagues,” Xinhua claimed regarding the incident with Tsang, the first time that Hong Kong police have fired live bullets at protesters since the protests began this year.
The South China Morning Post noted on Wednesday that the editorial in Xinhua’s pages claimed that the unarmed protesters, or “rioters,” “attacked police officers on a great scale.”
“The ‘black terror’ that has lasted for more than three months is close to craziness,” Xinhua claimed. “To stop the violence and curb disorder, we must make prominent the power of the rule of law, cut out the tumor of violence and prosecute all rioters in accordance with the law as soon as possible.”
“[His] action was totally legal, legitimate and appropriate,” it said.
Xinhua reportedly concluded by calling the Hong Kong protesters “terrorists,” though it did not provide examples of any terrorist acts.
Hong Kong police had shot live bullets during protests on two prior occasions this year, but only in the capacity of “warning shots” to disperse protesters. Tuesday’s was the first shooting directly targeting unarmed protesters. Tsang, whose name and age was confirmed on Wednesday, was recorded taken out of the protest scene and to the hospital in a conscious state, but authorities declared him in critical condition shortly thereafter. Medical staff treating the student said that he had returned to “stable condition” after surgery to remove the bullet and repair damage. The bullet reportedly missed his heart by three centimeters and lodged itself in his chest.
The Global Times, a Chinese regime propaganda outlet, repeatedly claimed Tsang was shot “near the shoulder.”
Hong Kong Police Commissioner Stephen Lo offered the full force of the department’s support to the officer who shot Tsang.
“My colleague was under a close-range attack. He made a decision in a split-second because he felt his life and his colleague’s were being threatened,” Lo said. “We believe [the action] was reasonable and legal.”
The Global Times, citing Lo, claimed that Tsang had “assaulted the police officer next to him with a baton.” The newspaper went on to claim the “rioters” had “attacked police officers in a very violent way, with iron stick, bricks and petrol bombs.”
Police reportedly arrested 269 people on Tuesday for “holding offensive weapons, assaulting police officers and taking part in riots,” the Times claimed.
The Beijing-controlled Hong Kong government supported the police in their efforts to defend the shooting of a teenaged student, again referring to the peaceful anti-communist movement’s assemblies as “riots.”
“The riots in various districts in Hong Kong on October 1 were planned and organized, leading Hong Kong to a chaotic and panic state. This reflects that the nature of the issue has already changed,” a Hong Kong government spokesman said on Tuesday.
“Many people took part in the unauthorized meetings and processions which turned out to be very dangerous riots, setting fires inside MTR stations, throwing petrol bombs, vandalizing shops and public properties, blocking thoroughfares to cause serious obstruction to fire fighting and ambulance work, and damaging the premises of the Cheung Sha Wan and Tsuen Wan government offices,” Xinhua quoted the spokesperson as saying.
The government went on to justify police brutality against protesters because acts like burning the communist flag of China “challenged the national sovereignty.”