Hong Kong police fired beanbag rounds and used pepper spray in late night skirmishes with pro-democracy protesters, broadcaster RTHK said as unrest that has gripped the Chinese-ruled city for months showed little sign of abating.
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets since mid-June in sometimes violent protests calling for greater democracy in the former British colony, posing a direct challenge to the central Chinese government in Beijing.
Riot police cleared demonstrators from outside the Mong Kok police station and in Prince Edward metro station, with one person taken out on a stretcher with an oxygen mask over his face, government-funded RTHK reported.
Metro stations have often become the frontline in battles between masked protesters and police, deepening the biggest political crisis in the Asian financial hub since the handover of power from Britain to China in 1997.
The continued unrest is piling pressure on Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam, who told a group of business people last week that she had “very, very limited” ability to end the crisis and it had been elevated “to a national level”, a reference to the leadership in Beijing. Her comments in an audio recording of the meeting were reported by Reuters on Tuesday.
Mrs Lam also said in the recording that she would step down if she had a choice, fuelling protesters’ claims that the partial autonomy granted to Hong Kong under a “one country, two systems” agreement is being slowly eroded by Beijing.
Mrs Lam on Tuesday said she had never discussed resignation with Beijing and believed her government could solve the crisis without Beijing’s help.