Hong Kong Police Shoot Protester, as National Day Demonstrations Turn Violent

A Hong Kong police officer on Tuesday shot a teenage demonstrator, the first time in months of protests that a live round was fired at a protester. The shooting capped an evening of violent protests, escalating the territory’s political crisis on the same day that the central government staged a huge military parade in Beijing to celebrate 70 years of Communist control.

The protesters in Hong Kong hoped to upstage Beijing’s celebrations by holding their own unauthorized marches. Violence quickly broke out, as demonstrators in districts across the city engaged in some of the bloodiest and most sustained clashes since protesters began taking to the streets in early June.

The protester was shot in the Tsuen Wan district of northern Hong Kong. Tsuen Wan is a working-class area near Hong Kong’s border with the Chinese mainland, miles from the city’s gleaming financial district.

Yolanda Yu, a spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Police Force, said in a video posted on the force’s Facebook page that the protester was an 18-year-old who had been shot in the left shoulder. She said the protester was conscious as he was taken to the hospital.

Local news media reported that the young man was a high school student.

Ms. Yu said the officer who shot the protester had been under attack by a violent “rioters” who were threatening officers’ lives. “In order to save himself and his colleagues, he fired one shot at the attacker,” she said.

In the video, the protester who was shot is first seen joining a black-clad mob of people who chase a riot officer and tackle him to the ground. They kick him and beat him with what appear to be metal pipes.

At one point, the protester approaches a second police officer who is standing nearby with a handgun drawn. Just after the protester hits the officer with the pipe, the officer fires at the man at point-blank range.

Hong Kong was transformed into a tear gas-engulfed battlefield on Tuesday as protesters clashed with riot police in nine districts across the territory, building bonfires and barricades and hurling firebombs and other objects in a direct challenge to Beijing’s rule.

The sirens of ambulances and fire trucks rang out as the police chased after and tried to pin down protesters dressed in black — who in many cases far outnumbered the officers at the scene.

Traffic was snarled on some major thoroughfares, subway stations were shut down and the clashes looked set to continue deep into the evening.

The police created a cordon and used a water-cannon truck to keep protesters away from the office of the central government’s liaison to the territory. Elsewhere, they fired live rounds as warning shots, and chased after protesters, pinning some of them down. The Hong Kong Police Force said on Twitter that “rioters” in one district had injured multiple officers and reporters with “corrosive fluid.” It did not elaborate.

The demonstrations began in earnest when tens of thousands of people joined an early afternoon march on Hong Kong’s main island from the Causeway Bay shopping district toward the heart of the city’s financial district. Some protesters sprinkled fake money — a traditional Chinese funerary custom — as a way of “mourning” China’s National Day. Others cursed and taunted those riot police who were stationed nearby, and who retreated into the shadows of a nearby footbridge.

The Hong Kong island march was largely peaceful. But others across the territory turned into violent clashes.

Hundreds of protesters fought with riot police officers outside a shuttered town hall in Tuen Mun, close to Hong Kong’s border with the Chinese mainland. The police also fired multiple rounds of tear gas at demonstrators in the Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan and Wong Tai Sin neighborhoods. And as protesters squared off with police at either side of an avenue in the working-class neighborhood of Sham Shui Po, some built makeshift roadblocks with trash cans and bamboo sticks, and others built bonfires.

In the Jordan neighborhood on the Kowloon Peninsula, seven masked men used a Molotov cocktail to burn posters of Xi Jinping outside a Chinese Army barracks. They left after setting the blaze, and soldiers inside the gates did not emerge to confront them.

In Wong Tai Sin, where the police had fired tear gas at one point near a retirement home, dozens of residents without masks or protest gear shouted at police to retreat.

“I want to cry. I come downstairs and feel that I have walked into a war zone,” Vincey Wu, a 53-year-old accountant, said. “Carrie Lam has gone off to celebrate National Day. But has she thought about her people who are breathing in tear gas?”

To the report of a 70-gun salute, 15,000 soldiers goose-stepped along Chang An Avenue — the Street of Eternal Peace — as an enormous military parade kicked off in Beijing.

The parade, commemorating 70 years of Communist Party rule in China, is one of the largest in modern Chinese history. It included 100,000 performers and was the capstone of a week of events meant to celebrate the country’s rapid emergence as a global power.

In his opening speech before the parade, Mr. Xi quickly hit on the theme of Hong Kong, the semiautonomous territory that has been roiled by anti-government protests for months.

“No force can shake the status of our great motherland, no force can obstruct the advance of the Chinese people and Chinese nation,” Mr. Xi said speaking from Tiananmen, or the Gate of Heavenly Peace, which overlooks the square.

Mr. Xi said that China would “maintain the lasting prosperity and stability” of Hong Kong and Macau. He made no mention of the months of strife in Hong Kong, but his words left no mistake that Hong Kong is on the mind of Chinese leaders today.

Mr. Xi also used the occasion to emphasize his narrative of national unity and rejuvenation under party rule. “No power can stop the progress of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation,” he said.

In the tradition of past parades, Mr. Xi, wearing a Mao-style suit, stood in the open sunroof of a Chinese-made Red Flag limousine as he reviewed the troops. He called out “Greetings, Comrades,” and “Comrades, you are working hard!” The troops responded in unison: “Greetings, Chairman” and “Serve the people!”

Many tens of thousands of other people marched through a busy Hong Kong shopping district on Tuesday afternoon.

The large crowd defied a government ban on assembly and marched through an empty thoroughfare in the Causeway Bay district on Hong Kong’s main island. Chants of “Hong Kongers, add oil!” and “Reclaim Hong Kong; revolution of our times” echoed off a canyon of skyscrapers and shuttered shopping malls.

“We are scared now,” said Ricky Hong, 49, a marketing executive who joined the march with his wife and young daughter. “Everyone is afraid of being arrested for just exercising our right to assembly and free speech.”

“This is not the Hong Kong we know,” he added. “Please tell the world.”

In the late afternoon, thousands of other protesters broke off from the main march and headed to a harbor-side complex of government offices. The mood remained festive, but grew more tense as the sun dipped lower in the hazy sky.

As protesters collected bricks in a trash can — weapons in the battle ahead — the authorities issued an evacuation order for the Hong Kong legislature. And before dusk fell, the police began firing tear gas and blue-dyed water from cannons mounted on trucks.

The police fired a continued fusillade of tear gas to clear the boulevard, but the protesters divided up into smaller pods; some made bonfires on the side streets with cardboard while others collected bricks. A saxophonist at the rear played the Star Spangled Banner.

The display of high-powered weaponry is always a highlight of the parade, but its usefulness for assessing China’s military has diminished over the years with ever-advancing satellite technology able to scour the country’s bases, airfields and ports.

China shocked the world when it showed off intercontinental ballistic missiles for the first time in 1984 during the 35th National Day parade. But this year, experts at the Foundation for Strategic Research in France were able to spot the latest addition to its arsenal weeks ago from afar.

That missile — which is known as the DF-41 and can carry 10 nuclear warheads and strike anywhere in the United States — made its first public appearance on Tuesday but has been known to American officials for years.

Other new weapons included a supersonic reconnaissance drone, the WZ-8, and a wing-shaped stealthy drone called Sharp Sword. Both are intended to support naval operations. China has been racing to catch up with the American Navy, shifting the balance of power in the South China Sea and farther out in the Pacific. Two submarine drones were also put on display.

The parade included 15,000 soldiers and sailors, 160 aircraft, and 580 tanks and other mobile weapons, according to military commanders, who emphasized that all of the weapons were made in China and already operational.

Mr. Xi, who is commander-in-chief of the People’s Liberation Army, has overseen a sweeping military reorganization that has created a smaller but more modern and capable military force.

Another float showed off the country’s technological accomplishments, including models of its C919 jetliner, a Long March space rocket and its Jade Rabbit moon rover, all riding atop a sleek high-speed rail car.

Still another float celebrated China’s entrepreneurs. The rainbow-colored float, with a charging bull at the prow, was called “The Rolling Spring Tide,” a metaphor often used when discussing China’s process of reform. Lei Jun, the founder of smartphone maker Xiaomi; Liu Yonghao, who controls the New Hope food conglomerate; and Liang Wengen, the founder of Sany Group, a heavy equipment maker, were among those waving to the crowd.

“I deeply feel today’s happy life is hard to come by,” said Mr. Lei in a post on the Weibo social media platform. “We are still on the road. The more we struggle, the happier we are!”

The images of progress evoke the Communist Party’s unspoken pact with its people: Your quality of life will improve as long as you leave the politics to us. That idea forms part of what Mr. Xi calls the China Dream, a broad vision of the country’s emergence as an economic and political force to be reckoned with for decades to come.

But for many, the China Dream may seem harder to reach than before. China’s economic growth is slowing. The trade war with the United States shows no signs of ending. Various indicators point to job losses, sluggish wage growth and fewer opportunities for college graduates.

The cost of living is rising, too. Both tariffs and a weaker currency have made imported goods more expensive.

Still, huge numbers of those watching the parade still remember a destitute China still struggling with the consequences of the devastating policies of the Mao Zedong era. The National Day holiday, which kicks off a weeklong holiday for many, will offer still more reminders as millions go back to their often modest roots to visit their families.

President Trump on Tuesday tweeted a message of congratulations to Mr. Xi hours after violent protests broke out across Hong Kong and the police shot a young demonstrator.

“Congratulations to President Xi and the Chinese people on the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China!” Mr. Trump tweeted from the White House early Tuesday morning, after National Day celebrations in Beijing included a large military parade.

Critics of Mr. Trump and the Chinese government were quick to seize on the president’s comment, retweeting video of the Hong Kong shooting and suggesting the American president was “lauding communism.”

Mr. Trump has had a complicated relationship with the Chinese leader. He both flatters and lauds Mr. Xi, while attacking China and escalating a trade war with the country.

Last week, officials said the president was considering blocking Chinese companies from listing shares on American stock exchanges, the latest push to try to sever economic ties between the two countries.

Tuesday’s protests were different than weeks past in part because of the widespread vandalism that demonstrators inflicted on shop fronts, restaurants and other private property across the city.

But much of what looked like indiscriminate destruction of property was in fact part of a coordinated pressure campaign: For months, the protesters have been targeting mainland Chinese businesses, as well as those that they perceive to be sympathetic to the central government.

Protesters in Causeway Bay set fire outside a Bank of China branch. And in Tsuen Wan — the district where the police shot a protester with a live bullet — they smashed a Bank of China branch and a business called China Travel Service.

Not all of the vandalism appeared to have a specific target, however. On the wall of a business complex in Tuen Mun, for example, protesters spray painted the phrase “The heavens will destroy the Communist Party.” The link to mainland Chinese businesses was not immediately clear.

One of the guests of honor at the National Day parade in Beijing was Lau Chak-kei, a Hong Kong police sergeant who was photographed over the summer carrying a shotgun during a July protest.

Sergeant Lau is among the more polarizing figures in the semiautonomous Chinese territory.

In Hong Kong, he is reviled by the pro-democracy movement as a symbol of what they see as a corrupt police force prone to brutality.

But on the Chinese mainland, he is widely seen as a hero who is gallantly battling rogue subversives. He is known affectionately there as “Bald Lau Sir,” and an account that he created recently on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, has more than 600,000 followers. (An account his wife created, “My super badass husband,” also has about 125,000 followers.)

In recent days, China’s state-controlled media has breathlessly documented Sergeant Lau’s activities in the capital, such as climbing the Great Wall and buying Peking duck. The newspaper China Daily praised him as one of many Hong Kong officers who are “combating violence” and helping to protect their city.

On Tuesday, Sergeant Lau was photographed in the parade gallery wearing a white shirt and striped tie. One user on Weibo thanked him for his service in Hong Kong; another asked him to “shout encouragement for our motherland.”

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Communist Party leaders have established a kind of liturgy for how to celebrate the anniversary, including the role of the military.

But President Xi Jinping has also created new ways to put himself and his message of patriotic obedience to the fore this year. Mr. Xi featured prominently on Monday in a recently established ritual: a ceremony in Tiananmen Square to mark Martyr’s Day, a holiday established in 2014 to honor those who have given their lives to the Communist Party’s cause. He also paid his respects at Mao Zedong’s mausoleum.

In his speech on Tuesday, Mr. Xi referred to Mao Zedong but did not mention his predecessors as Chinese leaders — even as two previous presidents, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, stood nearby listening to the address. Instead, Mr. Xi’s focus was on the theme of “national rejuvenation” that he has made his own since taking office in 2012.

“On this day 70 years ago on this spot, Comrade Mao Zedong announced to the world the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and the Chinese people henceforth had stood up,” Mr. Xi said. “This great event utterly transformed the tragic face of China for over a century of modern history when it was poor, weak and bullied.”

(In fact, Mao did not make his famous remark about the Chinese people standing up in his speech at Tiananmen on Oct. 1. He used a similar phrase in a speech not long before.)

“The Chinese nation advanced along the grand road toward achieving its great rejuvenation,” Mr. Xi said.

The Communist Party controls many things in China but one thing that it could not rein in today was the pollution.

Beijing woke on Tuesday to a pall of smog and dust ahead of the parade — despite the usual government diktats that have ensured blue skies on important holidays in the past.

Industries north of the Yellow River were shut down, including a glass tempering factory in Shijiazhuang, south of Beijing, which confirmed that it had closed for the holidays five days ago and will remain shut until Friday. Construction sites in Beijing also went idle. Trucks were barred from the city center.

To no avail. The air quality index reached 154, a level that is considered unhealthy. Outdoor activity is not recommended, which has been the case for several days now.

Tiananmen Square was packed with dignitaries, party members and foreign journalists. Access was tightly controlled. Many Chinese attendees were from government offices, top universities and state-owned enterprises.

For those of us who have been in China for a long time, the parades reflect China’s changing times and fortunes. In 1984, when I was a 22-year-old student at Peking University, we were told late in September that we would be going to Tiananmen Square to help celebrate the 35th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

This was the first big celebration after the end of the Cultural Revolution — although Deng Xiaoping had taken power in 1978, the affair the next year had been relatively low key. But now, with economic reforms having kicked in, Deng’s government was eager to show off its accomplishments.

I remember a very real sense of excitement in the air. We mainly milled around on the square and walked right up to the parade as it went past, clapping and waving.

There was little security, and people joined in — most famously when some university students began to yell out “Xiaoping, ni hao!” (“Hello Xiaoping!”) to the elderly leader. For the first time since the 1950s, China had a stable government that had put economic development ahead of politics, and people appreciated it.

I ended up attending the next big parade, too. This was 1999, and it was the first to have a military element since the 1984 parade — the army’s crushing of the Tiananmen uprising in 1989 had made that year’s events a sober affair.

But by 1999, China was taking off economically and leaders were eager to show their country’s newfound wealth and might. This has been the overall trend since then — ever more mighty and technically impressive parades, but perhaps without the naïve enthusiasm of the 1980s. Or perhaps this is just nostalgia on my part.

— Ian Johnson

One of the guests of honor at today’s parade will be Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s beleaguered chief executive.

Because Mrs. Lam had sent out invitations to a flag-raising ceremony and reception in Hong Kong on Tuesday, her decision to travel to Beijing appeared to have been made at the last minute. It was unclear why her plans had changed.

The 200-plus-person delegation that accompanied Mrs. Lam did not include any legislators from the city’s pro-democracy legislative minority.

The first and only time my father saw Mao Zedong in person was in the October 1 parade of 1950, on the first anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic

In the fall of 1950, there were not many students in Beijing and the call to attend the parade went out to all the universities. My father had started classes a month earlier at Beijing Agricultural University. He wore a long-sleeve white shirt and blue pants and held a simple red flag in one hand.

Those assembled for the parade were grouped by work affiliations: there were farmers and factory workers, and in front of them all stood the soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army. My father was far back with the students.

“Everybody was excited,” my father said. “You could imagine it! It was our first time seeing Mao.”

The students marched in rows of ten. My father was at the left end of his row and walked next to Tiananmen Square, which meant he was far from Mao, who stood atop the gate to the Forbidden City. My father could not see Mao clearly, but could make out the chairman raising his right hand and waving. “Greetings, comrades!” Mao said.

The marchers shouted slogans. “Long live Chairman Mao!” and “Long live the Communist Party!” My father could also hear music, but it is the shouting that he remembers most clearly seven decades later.

Edward Wong

Reporting was contributed by Russell Goldman, Gillian Wong, Keith Bradsher, Mike Ives, Andrew Jacobs, Ezra Cheung, Li Yuan, Elsie Chen, Tiffany May and Elaine Yu in Hong Kong, and Christopher Buckley, Steven Lee Myers, Alexandra Stevenson, Edward Wong and Ian Johnson in Beijing. Claire Fu and Albee Zhang contributed research in Beijing.