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Police earlier threatened to use live rounds on rioters who used lethal weapons such as molotov cocktails against them

Police attempted to storm Hong Kongs Polytechnic University after a daylong battle with protesters which saw levels of violence between the two sides reach new heights on Sunday and officials threatened to use live rounds.

About 200 demonstrators remained inside the building at dawn on Monday morning when police in riot gear moved in. As they advanced, protesters set fire to one of the entrances to the university and explosions could be heard.

The move came after a day of clashes at Polytechnic University in Kowloon, during which officers fired teargas and water cannon and drove an armoured vehicle at demonstrators throwing molotov cocktails, the police said in a video statement the force would use live rounds on the rioters if they did not stop using lethal weapons to attack officers.

After attempting to enter the university the police again pulled back.

Overnight, police launched an operation to flush out protesters who had barricaded themselves inside the university, creating a cordon to prevent protesters from escaping as they move in. The remaining protesters had assembled an arsenal of petrol bombs and bows and arrows to resist, despite the police warning.

Tom Cheshire (@chesh)

Reports police are now here inside #PolyU. Protestors setting huge fires at one entrance pic.twitter.com/CT0JFepzF2

November 17, 2019

During the day on Sunday, the university, which has been taken over by protesters since clashes last week, became the site of some of the longest, tensest clashes between anti-government demonstrators and police of the last five months.

As a helicopter hovered overhead, riot police shot blue-dyed liquid laced with pepper spray at protesters who set fire to a pedestrian bridge packed with furniture, umbrellas and other materials, causing a blaze that was later put out by firefighters. Protesters on a roof of the university used catapults as well as bows and arrows to shoot at police, with one arrow striking an officer in the calf.

They also occupied a flyover and threw petrol bombs at riot police, setting off explosions and sending flames into the sky. An armoured vehicle drove towards protesters but was stopped by a barricade and pelted with molotov cocktails until it caught fire.

The main goal is to protect the campus and prevent people from getting arrested, said Rudy Lau, 27, an alumnus of the university. Using binoculars, he monitored a group of police outside the grounds, and alerted others to their movements.

People are trying everything. Most of the actions we do are indeed pointless because the Chinese government is not budging. So we just have to try to do everything and keep the momentum going, he said.

Owen Li, a PolyU council member and student, said panic had taken hold of the estimated few hundred protesters who remained. Many friends feel helpless we appeal to all of society to come out and help us.

Thousands of residents and protesters flocked to various districts around the university to try to penetrate the riot-police lines to rescue the trapped students.

If we can only hold on till dawn, more might come, said one young activist in the university who was close to exhaustion.

By late evening on Sunday, the unrest had spread, as protesters and their supporters took to the streets in at least five other locations to draw police resources away from the university. Hundreds of protesters gathered in Jordan, also in Kowloon, and lit a barricade as police pursued them with teargas and water cannon.

Volunteers also parked their cars in the middle of roads leading to the university, prompting the police to issue a statement ordering drivers not to block the roads and obstruct a police operation.

At the university, dozens were arrested as they tried to leave, following a police order to evacuate by a specified exit.

The confrontation, a continuation of the fighting from the night before, began in the morning when protesters were seen throwing bricks at residents trying to clear a blockaded road. It continued into the late evening, when police declared the unrest a riot and warned that anyone who remained on the campus or assisted the perpetrators would be considered a rioter.

The university said it was gravely concerned by the unrest. Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP

The university issued a statement calling on people to leave the grounds immediately. The university is gravely concerned that the spiralling radical illicit activities will cause not only a tremendous safety threat on campus, but also class suspension over an indefinite period of time, it said.

Political unrest has escalated dramatically in the last week as demonstrators have blocked transport links and roads and paralysed parts of the city. After the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, delivered his first public remarks on the crisis on Thursday after five months of protests, Peoples Liberation Army soldiers took to the streets on Saturday to help residents clear blocked roads.

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Hong Kong: China deploys troops to remove roadblocks at university video

Dressed in shorts and T-shirts and holding plastic buckets, the soldiers helped residents clear the protesters improvised barricades, a move that demonstrators described as clearance today, crackdown tomorrow. The Hong Kong government said it had not requested the help, describing the soldiers excursion as a voluntary activity.

On Sunday, Chinese soldiers at a base near the university, some in riot gear, were seen monitoring the situation. The Global Times reported that police in Guangzhou were holding counter-terrorism exercises.


Hong Kong protests

A new Hong Kong extradition law is proposed, which would allow people to be transferred to mainland China for a variety of crimes. Residents fear it could lead to politically motivated extraditions into China’s much harsher judicial system.

Large public demonstrations start as thousands march in the streets to protest against the extradition bill.

Hong Kong lawmakers scuffle in parliament during a row over the law.

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, introduces concessions to the extradition bill, including limiting the scope of extraditable offences, but critics say they are not enough.

The scale of protests continues to increase as more than half a million people take to the streets. Police use rubber bullets and teargas against the biggest protests Hong Kong has seen for decades.

Lam says the proposed extradition law has been postponed indefinitely.

The protests continue as demonstrators storm the Legislative Council, destroying pictures, daubing graffiti on the walls and flying the old flag of Hong Kong emblazoned with the British union flag. The protests coincide with the 22nd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from the UK back to China.

Armed men in white T-shirts thought to be supporting the Chinese government attack passengers and passers-by in Yuen Long metro station, while nearby police take no action.

44 protesters are charged with rioting, which further antagonises the anti-extradition bill movement.

By now the protest movement has coalesced around five key demands: complete withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill, withdrawal of the use of the word “riot” in relation to the protests, unconditional release of arrested protesters and charges against them dropped, an independent inquiry into police behaviour and the implementation of genuine universal suffrage.

The mass protests enter their fifteenth week, with police resorting to teargas and water cannon against the demonstrators, and a wave of “doxxing” using digital techniques to unmask police and protesters as a new front in the battle.

Police shoot a protester with live ammunition for the first time, as demonstrations continue on the day marking the 70th anniversary of the declaration of the People’s Republic of China.

The first charges are brought against protesters for covering their faces, after authorities bring in new laws banning face masks in order to make it easier to identify or detain protesters.

Hong Kong officials spark outrage in the city as it revealed that nearly a third of protesters arrested since June have been children. Seven hundred and 50 out of the 2,379 people arrested were under 18, and 104 were under 16.

Lam is forced to deliver a key annual policy speech via video link after after being heckled in parliament, as the legislative council resumed sessions after it was suspended on 12 June. Later in the day one of the protest leaders, Jimmy Sham, was attacked by assailants wielding hammers and knives.

Chan Tong-kai, the murder suspect whose case prompted the original extradition bill is released from prison, saying that he is willing to surrender himself to Taiwan. The extradition bill is also formally withdrawn, a key demand of protesters.

Chow Tsz-lok, 22, becomes the first fatality of the protests. Chow, a computer science student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), was found injured in a car park in Tseung Kwan O in Kowloon, where he was believed to have fallen one storey. Protesters had been trying to disrupt a police officers wedding, which was being held in the area.

A 70-year-old cleaner who is thought to have been hit by a brick during a clash between protesters and pro-Beijing residents becomes the second person to die.

The smell of teargas wafted over the campus, which has been turned into a battle station as first aid volunteers tended to injured protesters and others sorted supplies and prepared molotov cocktails. Protesters struck by the water were stripped and hosed down.

Activists have destroyed the tollbooths along the tunnel and built barricades on the road, blocking a major traffic artery. Roads leading into the university were strewn with bricks and nails in an effort to slow police. Heeding calls, dozens of supporters had arrived and were pulling up more bricks.

I really support them. Ive joined every demonstration from 9 June to now, said Lee, 68, a retired police officer who was helping arrange bricks. They are boiling the frog alive, he said, referring to Chinas growing control over Hong Kong.

After almost six months of weekly and now daily protests, Hong Kongs crisis reached a new peak last week after two protest-related deaths, dozens of injuries, and what were seen as attacks on universities by the police.

A fire burns at Polytechnic University. Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP

Residents have become frustrated and impatient with the traffic disruptions, while others have grown alarmed by what they see as the protesters increasing violence and intolerance for those who disagree with them.

Hong Kongs education bureau has called off lessons on Monday, after cancelling classes on Thursday and Friday out of safety concerns. Several universities have ended the semester early and sent foreign students home.

On Sunday, Hong Kongs finance minister, Paul Chan, said the city was heading towards its worst recession since the 1997 handover, as tourist numbers have fallen, and stocks and retail sales have been hit.

Calvin See, 27, who works at a logistics company, said the disruptions and slowdown were hurting its revenues. He had come to help support the protesters at Polytechnic University after seeing calls for reinforcements.

Thats not the worst part. I worry about people getting hurt, people getting shot. If I lose my job, Im not going to die, he said. Those people on the front, they are putting their lives on the line to fight for what they believe they are doing it for all of us.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/17/fire-rocks-and-teargas-fly-in-day-of-battle-at-hong-kong-university