Update: Hong Kong Protests Continue With Increasing Violence at Unauthorized Rally

Police and pro-democracy protesters clashed over the weekend during an unauthorized rally in Hong Kong. Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds, while protesters responded by throwing petrol bombs and vandalizing pro-China businesses.

The most recent face-off began when Hong Kong's Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions voted down an appeal organizers filed after police banned a march organized by the Civil Human Rights Front. The organization reports that 350,000 showed up despite the decision.

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While protests began in March and jumped in size in June as residents of the former British colony expanded their list of democratic demands, violence has increased in recent weeks despite government attempts to quell the unrest. On October 1, an officer shot an 18-year-old protester with live ammunition during protests on National Day, a holiday commemorating the establishment of the People's Republic of China. The protester survived.

When asked during a press conference why police would use a live round on protesters, Police Chief Stephen Lo responded, "Since [the officer] believed his life was in peril, he made the decision he made. We think it was reasonable and lawful."

The Hong Kong government, headed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, has made several attempts to appease protesters, to no avail.

In September, Lam withdrew the controversial extradition bill that launched the protests back in June. The bill would have allowed individuals in Hong Kong to be extradited and tried in China and was seen as an infringement on autonomy, and a means for Beijing to crackdown on dissidents. The withdrawal failed to appease protesters, whose list of demands grew over the summer to include such measures as Lam's resignation, amnesty for arrested protesters and a general increase in democratic governance.

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HOng Kong Protest Petrol bomb
A protester prepares to throw a petrol bomb outside the Tsim Sha Tsui police station in the Tsim Sha Tsui district in Hong Kong on October 20, 2019. Police fired water cannons and tear gas at Hong Kongers who defied authorities with an illegal march on October 20, their numbers swollen by anger over the recent stabbing and beating of two pro-democracy protesters. Dale De La Rey/ AFP/Getty

Soon after the National Day violence Lam announced a ban on face masks, a popular symbol of the protests, under a colonial-era emergency law. Most protesters have continued to wear the masks, but many were concerned the ban would mark the beginning of more authoritarian governance in the Special Administrative Region.

China has given little indication of yielding to protesters' demands. During a foreign ministry statement on October 12, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, "Anyone who attempts to split any region from China will perish, with their bodies smashed and bones ground to powder."

Though not directly referencing Hong Kong, many perceived the comment as a response to protesters' demands for more independence for the semi-autonomous region.

China has pointed a finger at the West, particularly the U.S., for encouraging the protests and meddling in other countries' affairs.

President Xi seems also wary of outside interference, saying in the same statement, "Any external forces that support the splitting of China can only be regarded as delusional by the Chinese people."

Update: Hong Kong Protests Continue With Increasing Violence at Unauthorized Rally | World