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Chaos across Hong Kong as protests ‘blossom everywhere’
Hong Kong: Pro-democracy protesters stepped up Wednesday a “blossom everywhere” campaign of road blocks and vandalism across Hong Kong that has crippled the international financial hub this week and ignited some of the worst violence in five months of unrest.
The new phase in the crisis, which has forced schools and shopping malls to close as well as the shutdown of large chunks of the vital train network, prompted police to warn on Tuesday the city was “on the brink of total collapse”.
China, facing the biggest challenge to its rule of the territory since it was handed back by the British in 1997, has insisted it will not buckle to the pressure and warned of tougher security measures.
On Wednesday, commuters across many parts of the city woke to the increasingly familiar scenario of roads choked with bricks, bicycles, couches and other materials that had been laid out by the protesters overnight to block traffic. Various lines on the subway, used by more than half of the city’s 7.5 million people daily, were also suspended due to vandalism, forcing many workers to stay at home.
Meanwhile, masked protesters dressed in their signature black were locked in a series of tense standoffs at university campuses following battles on Tuesday that continued through the night with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets.
The chaos was part of the largely anonymous protest movement’s new strategy of “blossom everywhere”, in which small groups of people target as many parts of the city as possible to cause maximum disruption and stretch police resources.
Protesters had until this week largely confined their actions to evenings and the weekends.
Further, Mainland Chinese students have begun fleeing Hong Kong campuses over security fears, police and university officials said Wednesday, as the city’s seething political crisis saw some of its worst violence this week. The most intense clashes on Tuesday occurred at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. (AFP)