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Protesters clash with police on Hong Kong university campus

China envoy warns Beijing will not sit back if protests continue

November 18, 2019 10:51 pm | Updated 10:51 pm IST - Hong Kong

Protesters taking cover from tear gas canisters in the Kowloon area of Hong Kong on Monday.

Protesters taking cover from tear gas canisters in the Kowloon area of Hong Kong on Monday.

Dozens of Hong Kong protesters escaped a two-day police siege on a campus late on Monday by shimmying down a rope from a bridge to awaiting motorbikes in a dramatic and perilous breakout that followed a renewed warning by Beijing of a possible intervention to end the crisis engulfing the city.

Clashes rumbled throughout the day between protesters and the police who had threatened to use deadly force to dislodge activists holed-up in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). The university siege has become a battle of wills between Hong Kong’s stretched police force and the constantly-innovating protest movement.

Late on Monday, dozens of black-clad protesters used a rope to slither down several metres on to a motorway below where they were picked up by waiting motorbike riders.

In an apparently co-ordinated effort, thousands of Hong Kongers streamed towards the PolyU campus to break the siege, as clashes simultaneously raged with the police nearby in Kowloon. It was not immediately clear how many protesters remained inside PolyU.

China has refused to budge on any of the protesters’ demands, and warned it will not tolerate dissent in the semi-autonomous city.

China’s Ambassador to Britain upped the ante on Monday. “The Hong Kong government is trying very hard to put the situation under control,” Liu Xiaoming said. “But if the situation becomes uncontrollable, the Central government would certainly not sit on our hands and watch. We have enough resolution and power to end the unrest.”

Earlier, the police made dozens of arrests as protesters made a dash for it — sometimes beating people with batons as they held them on the ground.

“Other than coming out to surrender I don’t see any viable option for them,” Cheuk Hau-yip, Police Commander of Kowloon West, told a press conference, before the daring breakout.

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