China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper deletes tweet about Hong Kong curfew

Office workers and protesters gather during a demonstration in Central in Hong Kong on November 14, 2019. (PHOTO: Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images)

By Iain Marlow, Dominic Lau and Natalie Lung

(Bloomberg) -- China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper deleted a tweet in which it had reported that Hong Kong’s government was expected to announce a curfew this weekend.

The initial tweet and ensuing deletion came after the city’s government announced all schools would be suspended through Sunday amid a fourth straight day of chaos. The city’s subway operator has partially suspended service and protesters continue to block roads, as residents wonder what could come next.

The financial hub has been paralysed since Monday morning, when a protester was shot during protests, igniting city-wide rallies and violent clashes. The situation has worsened in the days since, with most major universities canceling classes and companies telling employees to work from home.

Two people remain in critical condition from the recent clashes. One 70-year-old man was hit by what appeared to be a brick thrown by protesters, according to the government and police. A 15-year-old boy underwent brain surgery after sustaining a head injury from what may have been a tear gas canister, local news organisation RTHK reported.

The protests, which have been raging for five months in pursuit of greater democracy in the former British colony, first intensified Friday after a student died of injuries sustained near a protest. Chief Executive Carrie Lam held a late-night session with her advisors and government ministers last night, according to reports, and may be considering further measures. She has previously vowed not to give in to violent demonstrations.

Key developments:

  • Global Times reports a possible curfew

  • MTR Corp. announced some rail line closures on Thursday morning

  • Lam reportedly met with senior officials Wednesday night

  • Some roads remain blocked by protesters

  • Two people in critical condition

  • Local stocks fell, with the benchmark Hang Seng index closing down 1.8%

Here’s the latest (all times local):

Global Times deletes curfew tweet (4:03 p.m.)

China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper deleted a tweet in which it had said Hong Kong’s government was expected to announce a curfew this weekend.

Global Times warns of curfew (3:30 p.m.)

The Global Times tweeted that Hong Kong’s government was expected to announce a curfew this weekend, citing unnamed sources.

#BREAKING#HKSAR government is expected to announce curfew for weekend: sources

— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) November 14, 2019

Protesters gather in Central (1:45 p.m.)

A large group of demonstrators gathered in the Central financial district for the fourth-straight day, while other protesters amassed at a rally in Tai Koo, on the eastern side of Hong Kong Island.

Many people in Central were holding up their hands with five fingers outstretched, a way to signify support for the protesters’ five demands that include an independent inquiry and universal suffrage. They also blocked some traffic in the area.

Traffic is paralyzed in Hong Kong's Central financial area as protesters march through the streets #HongKongProtests #香港

— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) November 14, 2019

Schools suspended again (11:50 a.m.)

Hong Kong’s Education Bureau said the suspension of all schools would continue Friday to Sunday, citing safety reasons. Schools were also suspended Thursday.

Cheung says meeting had no specific purpose (11:13 a.m.)

A gathering held by Lam late Wednesday with senior officials was a regular meeting and didn’t have a specific purpose, Radio Television Hong Kong reported, citing the city’s No. 2 official, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, as saying in response to a question from a lawmaker at the city’s legislature. The meeting was held later than usual as everyone had busy schedules, the report said, citing Cheung.

Local media has speculated that the government discussed new contingency measures during the meeting, amid the escalating violence.

Hong Kong boosts police force (10:45 a.m.)

The city’s No. 2 official, Cheung, said it has supplemented its police force with about 100 officers from the Hong Kong Correctional Services Department to serve as “special police” on a voluntary basis. The move will help relieve the burden on Hong Kong’s regular force, which has been dealing with mass protests and intense clashes with protesters for more than five months, Cheung said in a Legislative Council meeting.

U.S. agency slams Hong Kong authorities (10:30 a.m.)

The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which reports to both Congress and the president on Chinese human rights issues, said it condemns the Hong Kong authorities for “excessive force” and that threats to delay upcoming local elections “will only enhance grievances.”

In a series of Twitter posts, the body said it’s also concerned about Beijing’s plan to exert more control over Hong Kong and suggested China may be allowing the growing turmoil in the city as part of a broader strategy.

“The escalating violence in #HongKong is extremely concerning and the premeditated attack on university campuses, where over 1k rounds of teargas were used, raises disturbing questions as to whether the #Chinese govt’s strategy is to create more chaos & new protests,” it said.

Protesters use bows and arrows (10 a.m.)

Hong Kong protesters used bows to fire arrows at police officers early Thursday, prompting a volley of tear gas in reply, according to a police statement. Demonstrators fired arrows starting around 6:40 a.m. and also threw flower pots, the police said, adding that no officers were injured.

Hong Kong is bracing for a 4th straight day of #HongKongProtests chaos

- Universities & schools suspended
- People working from home
- Transport links vandalized

More @business

— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) November 14, 2019

Dozens injured in clashes (9 a.m.)

Nineteen people were admitted to the hospital with injuries overnight and this morning as of 7:30 a.m., a Hospital Authority spokesman said. On Wednesday, the spokesman added, 67 people were admitted to the hospital as a result of clashes, with the youngest being a 10-month-old baby and the oldest aged 81. The Hospital Authority confirmed earlier reports that a 15-year-old and a 70-year-old remained in critical condition.

Tear gas fired (8:45 a.m.)

Police fired tear gas during the morning commute on Thursday at demonstrators gathered on the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus in Kowloon, not far from the entrance to the cross-harbor tunnel that connects the peninsula to Hong Kong Island.

MTR suspends some service (8 a.m.)

The city’s subway operator MTR Corp. has suspended parts of some lines, including the East Rail Line, West Rail Line and the Tung Chung Line. It has also closed the Mong Kok, Sai Wan Ho and Tseung Kwan O stations, according to the company. The Airport Authority Hong Kong is also aware of attempts to disrupt the Airport Express on Nov. 14, and urged passengers to pay attention to traffic updates and check with their airlines.

Man seriously injured (2 a.m.)

An elderly man remained in critical condition after sustaining serious injuries when he was hit in the head by a hard object thrown by “masked riotors,” the local government said in a statement last night. Police received information around noon Wednesday that the 70-year-old man allegedly hit by a brick in Sheung Shui, in Hong Kong’s New Territories, according to a police statement. No one has been arrested and police are seeking information from witnesses.

Key officials holding late night meeting (11:24 p.m.)

Local broadcaster RTHK reported government officials arrived at Lam’s official residence around 10 p.m. local time. It gave no further details.

RTHK separately reported that several black-clad protesters had gathered outside the People’s Liberation Army barracks in the city, where they argued with Chinese military officers who warned them to disperse.

On fire: Here’s how clashes between protesters and police escalated on Tuesday night at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
More @business #HongKongProtests #香港 #CUHK

— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) November 13, 2019

High court dismisses university injunction request (10:08 p.m.)

Separately, the High Court dismissed an application for an injunction to halt police from entering the campus of Chinese University, Radio Television Hong Kong reported. Counsel for the students had argued there was no rioting within the university and that it was the entry of police that sparked clashes, according to RTHK, while counsel for the government said that was not true and that students and protesters were throwing petrol bombs and bricks.

Riot police move into business district (8:07 p.m.)

In Central, Hong Kong’s business and retail center, riot police moved in on roads to clear out protesters in the early evening. Several people were seen being subdued by the police, while others reported pepper spray being used. Officers with helmets, face masks, batons and shields were seen guarding the streets at around 8 p.m. Very few pedestrians were seen in the normally busy area.

The “unpredictability of the situation in Hong Kong” also led to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. to cancel the 63rd Assembly of Presidents event scheduled to take place next week in the city, the companies said in a joint statement.

HKU cancels classes for the week (5:51 p.m.)

The University of Hong Kong, one of the city’s premier academic institutions, said it would suspend classes for the remainder of the school week from Nov. 14-16. It cited uncertainties with the transportation system and time needed to repair damage to facilities across its campus, and said offices would remain open.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.