German Citizens Reportedly Detained by Police: Hong Kong Update

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(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong’s No. 2 official promised “more decisive measures” to halt protest violence, as the financial center faced another weekend of unrest after five straight days of road blocks, vandalism and spontaneous marches.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung outlined the plans hours after city officials confirmed that Hong Kong was heading toward its first annual recession in a decade. Earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping had said that bringing the violence to an end is Hong Kong’s “most urgent task,” while a scuffle involving the city’s justice secretary and the second protest-related death in a week heightened tensions.

The protests, which have raged for more than five months, flared anew last week after the death of a student who fell near a police operation to clear a demonstration. A campaign to disrupt traffic has led to the shooting of a protester and citywide school cancellations, while Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s government has denied reports of a plan to institute an unprecedented curfew in a bid to quell unrest.

Key developments:

  • City’s No. 2 promises measures to halt violence
  • Clockenflap music festival canceled
  • Protesters return to city’s streets
  • Hong Kong justice minister hurt in London
  • Xi urges immediate end to disorder
  • Government worker dies; 15-year-old still in hospital
  • Some trains services remain suspended
  • Two German citizens reportedly detained by police

Here’s the latest (all times local):

German Citizens Reportedly Detained by Police (2:31 a.m.)

Two German citizens were detained by Hong Kong police amid the continuing protests, Deutsche Welle reported, citing an official at Germany’s foreign ministry. The two Germans are receiving assistance from the country’s consulate in Hong Kong, according to the report. Police in Hong Kong said two foreign men were detained during a demonstration in Tuen Mun, according to Reuters.

Pompeo Urges China to Uphold Its Commitments (1:19 a.m.)

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo deflected a question about what the U.S. would do if China cracks down harder on protesters in Hong Kong. But he urged China to uphold its agreements with Hong Kong and said he’s pressed both Beijing and the protesters to engage in non-violent discourse.

“Honor that commitment,” Pompeo said Friday at an event in Houston, Texas, referring to Beijing. “You promised there would be one country, two systems.”

University heads call for all to ‘work together’ to bring peace (10:45 p.m.)

Nine university presidents urged the government to take the lead in ending the political deadlock and restoring order as their campuses become “major political battlefields,” according to a joint statement.

Demands that university disciplinary processes can fix the problem are “disconnected from reality” and the government’s response so far has not been effective, they said. “We call on all quarters of society to work together to bring peace and order back to Hong Kong.”

Clockenflap music festival canceled (7:21 p.m.)

Hong Kong’s most high-profile annual music and arts festival — Clockenflap — has been canceled. It was due to be held between Nov. 22-24 and was set to feature artists including Mumford & Sons, Lil Pump and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.

“Until this week we were fully committed to delivering the festival. Unfortunately the situation has now made this impossible,” Clockenflap’s organizers said in a statement to attendees, promising a full refund.

City’s No. 2 vows more measures (6:07 p.m.)

Cheung, the city’s chief secretary, promised “more decisive measures” to halt protest violence, including suspending civil servants who are arrested during demonstrations. Cheung — joined by Civil Service Secretary Joshua Law, Transport Secretary Frank Chan, Education Secretary Kevin Yeung and Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Secretary Patrick Nip — said departments would step up coordination.

Law said that civil servants should make it their their responsibility to suppress violence. While Cheung declined to rule out further invocations of the city’s powerful Emergency Regulations Ordinance, he reaffirmed that the city would hold District Council elections as planned Nov. 24.

Protesters gather in Chater Garden (5 p.m.)

Demonstrators began gathering again in Chater Garden in the city’s central financial district, after dispersing earlier following the arrival of riot cops. Police said they had arrested 58 people since Thursday. They fired 194 rounds of tear gas, 58 rubber bullets and 14 bean bag rounds.

Overwhelming support for inquiry (4:45 p.m.)

Some 80% of Hong Kong adults want the government to set up an independent commission of inquiry to examine the use of force by police throughout Hong Kong’s recent unrest, according to a new survey by Hong Kong Public Opinion Program. That’s up from 77% earlier this month.

An inquiry is one of the five demands that protesters have been chanting about in marches throughout the city for months, but the government has so far ruled out any further political concessions.

Hong Kong expects recession (4:30 p.m.)

Hong Kong revised down its estimate for economic growth this year, with the government now forecasting the first annual contraction since the global financial crisis a decade ago. Gross domestic product will contract 1.3% in 2019 from the previous year, the government said Friday as it released final output calculations for the third quarter.

The government said ending the city’s violent unrest is key to an economic recovery.

Police classify death as murder (1:31 p.m.)

Police upgraded their probe into the injury of a 70-year-old government worker to a murder investigation after the man died overnight. The man was struck in the head by an object during a scuffle Wednesday between protesters who had set up road blocks and others who were attempting to clear them.

The man appeared to be filming in the direction of a group of black-clad protesters when one of them “deliberately threw” an object at him, Chan Tin-chu, senior superintendent for criminal investigations in New Territories North, told reporters at a briefing Friday. The victim didn’t participate in the argument or the attempt to clear the road blocks, Chan said.

Protesters start lunchtime rallies (12:40 p.m.)

Groups of protesters begin gathering in the financial district for a lunchtime rally, one of several planned across the city. Many wore masks and carried umbrellas.

Protesters also began assembling in the bustling Causeway Bay shopping district and in Tai Koo, on the eastern side of Hong Kong Island.

Chinese officials condemn attack (12:15 p.m.)

The Chinese government raised strong objections to the U.K. consulate in Hong Kong regarding the attack on the city’s justice secretary in London on Thursday. The Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong also urged the U.K. government and police to punish those responsible for the attack on Teresa Cheng, according to a statement.

Hurt 15-year-old still in hospital (8:56 a.m.)

A 15-year-old boy who suffered a head injury from what local media said may have been a tear gas canister was still in Tuen Mun Hospital, the Hospital Authority said. The agency said the boy’s family asked that details of his condition — which was originally listed as critical — not be disclosed.

Six people, ages 17 to 62, had been admitted to various hospitals for treatment for protest-related injuries overnight and this morning as of 7:30 a.m. All are in stable condition. The man shot by police in Sai Wan Ho on Monday is now in stable condition in Eastern Hospital. A man set on fire during an argument with protesters on the same day was still in critical condition at Prince of Wales Hospital.

Group blames government for death (7:32 a.m.)

A group of anonymous protesters that has occasionally spoken for the leaderless movement expressed “deepest condolences” for the death of a 70-year-old government worker Thursday, but blamed the incident on “police brutality” and government intransigence. “The HKSAR Government must concede to the Five Demands, and return to the table of politics to solve conflicts by political means,” the so-called Citizens’ Press Conference said in a statement Friday.

Meanwhile, another protester group at the Chinese University of Hong Kong offered to remove barricades from the Tolo Highway in exchange for a government pledge to follow through with plans for District Council elections on Nov. 24, according to Radio Television Hong Kong. Students had already reopened one lane in each direction, the South China Morning Post said.

Justice secretary ‘attacked’ (3:47 a.m.)

Hong Kong Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng condemned what her office said was an attack by a “violent mob” that caused her “serious bodily harm” Thursday while she was on an official visit to London. Cheng fell and hurt her arm after being surrounded by a group of about 30 protesters, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

“The secretary denounces all forms of violence and radicalism depriving others’ legitimate rights in the pretext of pursuing their political ideals, which would never be in the interest of Hong Kong and any civilized society,” Cheng’s office said in a statement.

Agency ‘saddened’ by death (2:21 a.m.)

Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department confirmed that one of its contract workers had died Thursday from a head injury, expressing “profound sadness” over his death. The elderly worker “was suspected to be hit in his head by hard objects hurled by rioters during his lunch break,” the agency said in a statement, adding that it would provide assistance to the victim’s family.

The government vowed to “make every effort to investigate the case to bring offenders to justice.”

U.S. Senate advances bill (12:41 a.m.)

The U.S. Senate is preparing for quick passage of legislation that would support pro-democracy protesters by placing Hong Kong’s special trading status with the U.S. under annual review. The Senate will run the “hotline” on the bill, which is an expedited process to check for last-minute opposition to bringing legislation immediately to a vote, according to Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican.

The Senate legislation is different than a version passed earlier by the House of Representatives. That means the two bills would have to be reconciled and passed by both chambers before going to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.

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