Hong Kong’s new police chief has taken aim at “fake news” which he claimed has fueled heated protests in the city and harmed the reputation of his officers. He urged locals to reject all violent action.
The new police commissioner, Chris Tang, gave his first-ever press conference soon after he was sworn in on Tuesday, stating “enough is enough” in a city wracked by six months of chaotic protests.
“Whatever your beliefs, do not glorify and put up with the violence,” he said, addressing all Hong Kongers. “Do not let the mob further motivate themselves and become more radicalised.”
Tang, who is now in charge of 30,000 officers, said the police alone could not put an end to the chaotic protests, and called on residents to vocally “condemn” violence.
“If everyone had come out earlier to condemn the violence, society would not have turned into this state in five months,” Tang told the South China Morning Post. “We can only end the unrest with society’s condemnation, reflection by the rioters, plus our appropriate tactics.”
Tang’s promotion comes on the heels of a decision in a Hong Kong court to strike down a facemask ban enacted last month in hopes of making protesters easier to identify. Though the police and government signaled they would abide by the ruling and suspend enforcement of the law, Beijing’s parliament weighed in soon after, insisting the move was null and void and that Hong Kong’s courts had no right to rule on the question. It is unclear how the law will be enforced going forward.
As the new police chief spoke at his debut presser, about 100 protesters remained barricaded inside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University after one of the most violent weeks of clashes yet. Hundreds of protesters, many of them students, occupied the university last week in the city’s latest mass demonstration, prompting running battles with security forces as they tried to escape a police cordon around the school.
Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam said a total of 600 demonstrators had recently left the campus, including nearly 200 under the age of 18, while police made around 400 arrests there.
Originally sparked by a controversial extradition bill which critics said would give mainland China too much power over Hong Kongers, the protests have since broadened in scope, with demonstrators calling for universal suffrage and probes into police misconduct, among other demands.
If you like this story, share it with a friend!