Violence in the Chinese-ruled city had reached a “very dangerous and even deadly level” according to global media.
Demonstrators, (mostly university students), had since June been protesting about what they see as meddling by Beijing in the freedoms guaranteed under the “one country-two systems” formula. This arrangement was put in place when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. China denied interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs and had blamed Western countries, especially Britain and the United States.
Roads had been blocked, university entrances barricaded, luxury flagship stores and some of the world’s most expensive real estate residential areas had been cut off from the mainstream transport system. Students had also barricaded the Stock Exchange.
Police had been evacuating mainland Chinese university students from Hong Kong by boat, while Taiwanese students had voluntarily left the city due to safety concerns. Riot police had been photographed beating students with batons and wrestling them to the ground which instilled even greater violence.
Schools had closed down and railway travel suspended. Thousands of workers are stranded across the city.