As China celebrated 70 years of Communist Party rule with a massive military parade on Tuesday, police fired a live round into a group of pro-democracy protesters who marched through the streets of Hong Kong defying a police ban and demanding political reforms, reports say.
An 18-year-old student was in a critical condition after being shot in the shoulder during a demonstration in Tseun Wan. He was among 51 protesters injured in the firing.
A video footage showed some protesters running after a police officer, pressing him to the ground and hitting him with rods.
That prompted a group of officers to open fire on the violent protesters one of whom fell after being hit in the shoulder.
Police said they resorted to firing because they felt threatened as they were surrounded by protesters.
While it was a day of great celebration for people in China, Hong Kongers marched through streets wearing black shirts and Guy Fawkes masks as a sign of protest against Baijing’s authoritarian rule.
The protesters chanted anti-China slogans, burned barricades, threw petrol bombs and set fire to public property. Police tried to push them back by firing tear gas and water cannons.
Hong Kong had been witnessing massive weekend protests since June 9 against a proposed bill that would have allowed the extradition of politicians, lawyers, rights campaigners and writers along with fugitives to China to face trial.
Although Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam cancelled the bill amid unprecedented protests, she has not given any assurance to protesters on political reforms or release of hundreds of young prisoners who face a ten-year jail term.
People of Hong Kong want democracy and freedom back. These were guaranteed when the British handed over Hong Kong back to China in 1997. But those hopes seem to be fading as Lam follows Beijing’s orders.
The Chinese dream
Speaking from the Tiananmen rostrum, Chinese President Xi Jinping said only the Communist Party can make the country realise its dream with him as leader.
No force can shake the foundation of the nation or stop its people from forging ahead.
The nation must adhere to the one country, two systems policy governing Hong Kong and maintain the long-term prosperity and stability of the city, Xi said.
Turning to Taiwan, the self-governed island that China views as part of the mainland, Xi said the fight will continue for the full reunification of the country.
Xi’s speech was followed by a parade on Tiananmen Square that reflected China’s military might.
Some 15,000 soldiers, 580 tanks, weapons systems, intercontinental missiles, jests and drones took part in the parade.
The military parade was followed by a pageant in which 100,000 civilians and 70 floats participated highlighting the country’s achievements.
Among the floats was one carrying a giant portrait of Mao, followed by those of past leaders and Xi.