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Person Shot as Train Services Remain Suspended: Hong Kong Update

Natalie Lung, Iain Marlow and Aaron Mc Nicholas
Person Shot as Train Services Remain Suspended: Hong Kong Update

(Bloomberg) -- The latest Hong Kong protest ended late Friday night with another person shot, as demonstrators called for a mass show of defiance against the government’s newly imposed ban on masks. Train services, including those connecting to the airport, remain suspended Saturday morning.

A court denied an injunction application against the law and the city’s metro operator shut down all services late Friday for the first time since the demonstrations started. Protests planned Saturday included a cheeky march in Halloween masks as the government invoked rarely used powers to quell the unrest.

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, announced the prohibition on masks during public assemblies after the former British colony suffered some of its worst violence yet on Tuesday, with a police shooting and wounding an 18-year-old protester. Activists have repeatedly used the government’s actions to rally supporters for more protests during a three-day holiday weekend, including the masked march on Saturday and a rally against police tactics Sunday.

Protests sparked over government legislation to allow extraditions to mainland China have dragged on for almost four months, despite Lam’s decision to withdraw the bill. Demonstrators say they won’t settle for anything short of their five demands, including direct elections for the city’s leader -- something that the Communist Party in Beijing says it can’t accept.

Here’s the latest (all times local):

Train services suspended (6:22 a.m.)

The city’s train services, including its Airport Express Line and MTR bus services, remain suspended, the government said in a statement. Bus services running in the morning may be diverted due to road conditions after more than 100 sets of traffic lights were damaged or tampered with on Friday night.

One man shot (2:45 a.m.)

A plain-clothed policeman fired a shot which injured a man at about 9 p.m. on Friday after the officer was attacked and beaten by protesters, Yolanda Yu, a police senior superintendent, said a press conference early Saturday morning. The incident is being investigated, she said, defending the right of the officer to discharge his weapon as his life “was threatened.”

The police haven’t been in contact with the man, who’s undergoing surgery at a local hospital. While she didn’t link the case to the earlier injury sustained by a 14-year-old, Yu said she believes it’s related to the open-fire incident in the Yuen Long district.

Injured 14-year-old, officer assaulted: (12:18 a.m.)

A 14-year-old who was sent to hospital is in a serious condition after this evening’s protests, according to a spokesman for Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority. The spokesman couldn’t specify how the patient was injured.

At around 9 p.m., a large group of “rioters” attacked a plainclothes police officer, according to a government statement. The officer was assaulted after he fell to the ground, firing his gun to warn off his assailants. Another subsequently hurled a petrol bomb at him, setting his body briefly on fire. The officer dropped his gun while escaping and a second petrol bomb was thrown at him as he called for back up, according to the statement.

Court denies interim injunction: (11:38 p.m.)

After listening to arguments for two hours, a court decided against granting a temporary suspension of the anti-mask law after pro-democracy activists brought a late Friday injunction application. The ban will come into effect at midnight.

The iShares MSCI Hong Kong ETF, the biggest U.S. exchange-traded fund tracking the nation’s stocks, fell to a session low during U.S. trading on Friday, sliding as much as 2.3%.

MTR says stations, train set on fire: (11:10 p.m.)

A spokesman for the rail operator said that some metro station entrances and a train at Sha Tin station were set on fire and damaged on Friday evening, prompting the decision to implement a city-wide shut down -- the first since the protests began four months ago.

Separately, many stores and supermarkets shut early and a number were vandalized, including a China Mobile outlet in Causeway Bay.

Hong Kong MTR suspends all train services: (10:39 p.m.)

Hong Kong’s MTR Corp. suspended all train services for the first time since the protests started, following a gradual shut down on Friday evening, local media reported.

Tear gas fired, trains suspended (10:06 p.m.)

Riot police fired tear gas at protesters in Causeway Bay and Wong Tai Sin in a bid to disperse them. Demonstrations in other parts of Hong Kong continued into the evening and services on three major train lines were suspended.

Court interim injunction sought (9:02 p.m.)

Pro-democracy activists Lester Shum and Leung Kwok-hung have applied for an interim injunction to stop the anti-mask law from becoming effective after midnight. The court will hear the case at 9 p.m., pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu wrote in a Facebook post.

Meanwhile, at least 15 subway stations, including the busy Causeway Bay station, were shuttered.

Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s statement (8:09 p.m.)

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said in a rare statement that the government’s invoking of the emergency regulations ordinance on public safety grounds doesn’t affect normal operations of the city’s banking sector and financial market. It has the “capability, resources and commitment” to safeguard Hong Kong’s monetary and financial stability, it said, adding that free flow of capital is guaranteed under Article 112 of the Basic Law.

Supermarket closures (7:01 p.m.)

Long lines were witnessed at supermarkets in areas such as Causeway Bay and people queued at ATMs, a couple of which had ran out of cash. Many stores, even those not located near the protests, closed early.

Suited demonstrators left work in Hong Kong’s financial district and headed to a protest area about five minutes walk from their offices. Many wore a mix of blue surgical masks -- typically handed out for health reasons -- and black masks while chanting “Hong Kong fight back.”

Protesters burn China banner (6 p.m.)

Protesters gathered in the streets at various locations around the city in opposition to the mask ban, with one crowd near Hong Kong’s Exchange Square swelling into the thousands. Some downtown offices sent workers home early in anticipation of traffic disruptions.

“It just infuriates us,” said one protester, 30, who gave only his surname Chan. “More people will just take to the street to oppose this ridiculous and useless government.”

Two protesters climbed atop an overpass at the city’s Connaught Road and tore down a banner hung to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on Tuesday. They then set the banner on fire in the street, where it burned until firefighters put it out.

U.K. urges dialogue (5:54 p.m.)

U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called on the Hong Kong government to engage the public to end the unrest. “Political dialogue is the only way to resolve the situation in Hong Kong. While governments need to ensure the security and safety of their people, they must avoid aggravating and instead reduce tensions,” Raab said.

Ban muzzles protesters, Amnesty says (4:19 p.m.)

Global human rights group Amnesty International said the mask ban appeared designed to curb Hong Kong residents’ right of assembly, not reduce violence on the street. “Rather than deescalating the situation, Hong Kong’s authorities have chosen to grant themselves sweeping new powers to quash protests, demonstrating the extent of their growing intolerance for freedom of peaceful assembly,” said Joshua Rosenzweig, head of Amnesty International’s East Asia regional office.

Hong Kong stocks slip (4:12 p.m.)

Local stocks fell the most in Asia as the mask ban fed worries of a backlash from protesters, although equities pared losses after Lam said the action didn’t mean Hong Kong was in a state of emergency. The Hang Seng Index slipped 1.1% to close below the key 26,000 point level. Property developers were the biggest losers, with Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. dropping the most in two months.

Mask ban ‘necessary,’ Lam says (3:15 p.m.)

Lam said she had no choice but to invoke a colonial-era emergency law and ban people from wearing face masks at protests. As protesters gathered nearby -- many wearing masks -- the chief executive told reporters that her Executive Council had approved the measure earlier Friday.

“As a responsible government, we have a duty to use all available means to stop the escalating violence and restore calmness in society,” Lam said, explaining that the rule carried a possible jail sentence as long as a year. “We believe the new law will crate a deterrent effect against masked violent protesters and rioters and will assist the police.”

While Lam said that Hong Kong wasn’t yet in a formal state of emergency, she didn’t rule out further measures under the 1922 emergency law if violence continues to escalate. The ordinance grants the chief executive sweeping powers, including censorship, snap arrests and easier searches and seizures of property.

Lam to brief media (2:01 p.m.)

Lam and her government officials announced plans to hold a news conference at 3 p.m. local time, without giving any reason for the briefing. Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, Financial Secretary Paul Chan, Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng and Security Secretary John Lee were among eight ministers expected to attend. The benchmark Hang Seng Index extended losses, failing 1.5%.

Another weekend of protest (1 p.m.)

Government efforts to make protesting harder haven’t dented demonstrators’ commitment for rallies. Groups plan number events over the three-day weekend, with the city marking the Chung Yeung Festival on Monday, a holiday normally reserved for hikes and spending time with families.

Rally against mask ban (12:30 p.m.)

Thousands the flooded streets in central Hong Kong on Friday in opposition to a looming government ban on face masks, chanting slogans and holding up their five fingers, to signify the movement’s five central demands. Protesters have worn surgical masks -- long ubiquitous in Hong Kong to protect against disease and pollution -- to conceal their identity from police and facial recognition software. More recently, demonstrators have donned gas masks to filter out tear gas fired by police.

Railway operator decries vandalism (12:42 p.m.)

MTR Corp., Hong Kong’s railway operator, urged protesters to stop the “malicious damage” of the transit network’s facilities. Demonstrators, who have relied on the transportation system to quickly move around the city, have increasingly targeted the company facilities over what they see as collusion with the government. The operator said increasing vandalism at stations and risk to passengers left it no choice but to close 47 of its 91 stations during intense protests Tuesday.

--With assistance from Annie Lee, Lulu Yilun Chen, Blake Schmidt, Fion Li, Divya Balji and Crystal Tse.

To contact the reporters on this story: Natalie Lung in Hong Kong at flung6@bloomberg.net;Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.net;Aaron Mc Nicholas in Hong Kong at amcnicholas2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Linus Chua, Sebastian Tong

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