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New HK police chief vows to uphold law

China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-20 07:37

Progress made against radicals holed up on campuses, but hazards remain

Hong Kong's newly appointed police commissioner pledged on Tuesday to take on the responsibility to continue to uphold the rule of law amid the city's prolonged social unrest.

Tang Ping-keung made his debut at Police Headquarters in Wan Chai after being appointed commissioner by the State Council. Tang replaced Lo Wai-chung, who retired after serving in the Hong Kong Police Force for 35 years.

At a news conference, Tang said he would continue to shoulder the responsibilities of his new position, including protecting colleagues and supporting them in continuing to enforce the law in the special administrative region.

But Tang said that instead of feeling excited about the promotion, he has been saddened by radicals' acts of defiance and undermining of the rule of law in the city. Over five months of social unrest, radical protesters have set fires, blocked roads, vandalized facilities and violently attacked Hong Kong residents and police officers, he said.

Tang urged the radicals to stop using violence. He expressed hope that the public would continue to support police so that order can be restored in Hong Kong as soon as possible.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor expressed her confidence on Tuesday in Tang's leadership of police.

"Mr Tang has served in the Hong Kong Police Force for over 30 years and has extensive experience in criminal investigation and international liaison, as well as operational command," Lam said, according to a news release.

Police continue to battle rioters, and while progress had been made against those who occupied universities, the situation was still not completely resolved.

Around the city, police said they had detained 1,100 people on Monday, the largest single day amount since the unrest erupted in June. Among that group, adults were arrested on charges such as rioting and possession of offensive weapons, and minors' personal information was recorded and they were sent home with the understanding that they may be investigated.

In the periphery of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, police had clashed on Sunday with radicals who had taken over the campus. Police had announced that anyone leaving the campus by 10 pm Sunday could do so without being arrested. It was not clear how many left the campus by that time.

Kwok Ka-chuen, chief superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch, said that from Monday to 3 pm on Tuesday, around 600 people inside the PolyU campus walked out peacefully to surrender.

Of those, 400 adults were arrested as soon as they stepped out. The other 200 were under age 18 and their photos and personal information were taken by police, pending investigation.

Police confirmed that as of Tuesday night, there were still radicals holed up on the campus.

Police had always wanted to bring the standoff to an end in a peaceful and humane manner, said Kwok.

Police said they had discovered up to 3,900 gasoline bombs at Chinese University of Hong Kong. The CUHK campus was occupied by radicals for four days last week and used as a stronghold-that occupation ended on Friday.

Kwok said police suspect there may be even more gasoline bombs at the PolyU campus than were found at CUHK. "No one is above the law. No excuse, no political demand or motive can spare anyone from legal liability," he said.

On Monday, officers fired 1,458 rounds of tear gas, 1,391 rubber bullets, 325 bean bag rounds and 265 sponge bullets to contain the situation. Six officers were injured on Monday.

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