Violence is rising between protesters and police in Hong Kong, with China threatening to unleash retribution upon those who challenge its authority. Police attacked pro-democracy demonstrators Monday, severely injuring one, while media in Beijing warned it might send Chinese paramilitary forces. The escalation has Hong Kong feeling panicked. Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News reports.
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Hong Kong's airport was shut down today, occupied by thousands of protesters. The authorities in Beijing again struck an ominous note, comparing the mass protests to terrorism, and, as thousands of Chinese security personnel mustered on Hong Kong's border, Beijing declared there should be, quote, no leniency or mercy for the protesters.
Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News reports.
In air thick with tear gas, inside an underground station, Hong Kong police last night resorting to ever harsher tactics. These protestors had been attempting to flee.
Across the harbor, outside a Kowloon police station, a protester was shot in the eye with a (INAUDIBLE) from a police shot gun. Despite wearing protective goggles, her eyeball was ruptured and there are fears she could lose her eye.
Earlier in the same location, police fried tear gas from inside the station. A battle ensued, as protestors laid siege. Then this. A policeman inside suffered burns to his legs.
Today, an infuriated Beijing lashed out, branding this terrorism. The state council, Chinas cabinet, ratcheting up the ruthlessness of the rhetoric, leaving no room now to back down.
These were serious and sinister crimes, it said, protestors reckless. Things had reached what the spokesman called a critical juncture.
Yang Guang (through translator):
Such violent crimes must be resolutely cracked down on, in accordance with the law. No leniency, no mercy, we strongly support the Hong Kong police as they enforce the law strictly to bring the criminals to justice as soon as possible.
There's been mounting alarm in Hong Kong over whether China might order military onto the streets. But today, communist party papers released footage complete with sinister soundtrack, showing convoy of people's armed police heading to Shenzhen on Hong Kong's northern border. These paramilitary under command of central military council headed by President Xi Jinping himself have been used to put down protest, often brutally, in other regions.
Growing outrage over police brutality led to thousands of demonstrators converging today on Hong Kong International Airport, one of the busiest in the world, forcing the total cancellation of all flights in and out.
It's the protestors that were brutal today, the police said, exhibiting weapons they said were confiscated. Most Hong Kongers won't buy that now, the trust is broken.
There are 28 years still to go before China can take full control of Hong Kong. But Beijing looks impatient to bring the territory under its authoritarian aegis.
Among Hong Kongers, banks and businesses, a quiet but rising panic.