Hong Kong remained paralyzed on Thursday as it entered the fourth day of a citywide strike and class boycotts and the government is expected to announce a curfew this weekend, according to China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper, which tweeted the news citing unnamed sources.
However, the tweet from the fiercely nationalistic Global Times was live for a little over half an hour before it vanished, according to AFP.
In a statement, the Education Bureau said because traffic disruptions and road blockages were continuing and widespread, classes at all kindergartens, primary, secondary and special schools would continue to be suspended from Friday to Sunday.
On Wednesday morning, the government refused to suspend classes, saying it could not allow Hong Kong to come to a standstill.
Its decision to leave parents to decide whether they should continue to send their children to schools was heavily criticized by parent groups and educators, especially after a video showing police intercepting school students in Yau Tong station went viral.
At noon on the same day, the government announced that schools would be closed on Thursday, because of the ongoing unrest.
Some primary and secondary schools sent homework to students and provided online classes. Lectures at several universities were also canceled due to the growing turmoil.
On Wednesday, the Chinese University of Hong Kong announced an early term break and said lectures would be resumed on January 6, 2020.
Late on Tuesday evening, there were serious clashes between students and police on a bridge connecting the university to a road. Police fired hundreds of tear gas canisters at the students, who resisted by throwing back petrol bombs. A water cannon truck was deployed to spray blue-dyed water at protesters.
Joseph Jao-yiu Sung, the former Vice-Chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, went to try to resolve the conflict and led a team of medical staff to help the 60 injured protesters.
Hong Kong Baptist University and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology announced they would start to give lectures on the internet from Thursday.
On Thursday, the traffic systems in Hong Kong were paralyzed as roads were blocked and the MTR provided limited train services.
There were many road closures across Hong Kong, including roads near universities. The Western and Cross-Harbour tunnels and Tolo Highway were also blocked.
The MTR Corporation said the East Rail Line was closed, while the West Rail Line provided limited services. Tseung Kwan O, Sai Wan Ho and Tuen Mun stations were all closed, while a large number of light rail services were not operating.
On Wednesday evening, some senior government officials were seen going to Government House for a meeting. HK01.com reported that the government had considered imposing a curfew and granting more power to the police to use strong weapons to suppress the protests.
However, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said Thursday that it was only a regular meeting as officials were too busy to come together during the day.
Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said it was difficult to implement a curfew as the Hong Kong police did not have enough manpower.
Tam said if the People’s Liberation Army was deployed to help clear the roads, it may create some misunderstandings. He suggested civil servants and local citizens should go to clear the roads.
However, AFP reported on Thursday afternoon that Chinese state media said the Hong Kong government “expected to announce a curfew for the weekend.”
Some pro-government people gathered to clear roads on Wednesday.
In Sheung Shui, a dozen pro-Beijing people were seen throwing bricks and metal bars at a group of black-shirted protesters.
While protesters threw some of the bricks back, a 70-year-old man who worked as a cleaner for one of the subcontractors of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department was hit by a brick, according to video footage. The man was in a critical condition in hospital.
Meanwhile, a 15-year-old boy underwent four hours of brain surgery at Tuen Mun Hospital overnight after being struck by what was thought to be a tear gas canister in Tin Shui Wai on Wednesday. He is now in intensive care and is also in a critical condition.
A black-clad man, aged 20-30, was declared dead after being found unconscious near the Kerry Warehouse on Shing Yiu Street in Tsuen Wan at about 10.30pm on Wednesday after an apparent fall.
It was not clear what caused his fall. Suspicions have been raised as the man had injuries to different parts of his body, but police ruled out foul play.