The 24th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on Thursday was disrupted by a knife attack that seriously injured a police officer and by the suicide of the suspect.
The 28-year-old officer was stabbed in the left side of his back by a 50-year-old Hong Kong man outside the Sogo department store in Causeway Bay at about 10pm.
The stabbing was captured on a video by the Vision Times during a live broadcast on the streets.
Immediately after the attack, the man stabbed his chest with the same knife. He was subdued by police and pronounced dead at Ruttonjee Hospital at 11:20pm. The officer, from the police tactical unit, was in serious condition and was due to undergo surgery at Queen Mary Hospital.
“Initial investigations indicate that this is a lone wolf-style act of domestic terrorism,” said Chris Tang, Secretary for Security.
There’s no evidence yet to show that anyone else was involved in the attack, which was categorized as an attempted murder, but a search of the suspect’s apartment showed that he had been “radicalized” by hate speeches, he added.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam condemned the attack, as well as a number of suspected illegal acts that took place on Thurssday. She said it was clear those acts were intended to challenge the Hong Kong SAR’s authority.
While the Communist Party of China (CPC) had a grand ceremony in Beijing to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the Hong Kong government celebrated the 24th anniversary of the establishment of the SAR on Thursday.
At the reception of the Hong Kong gala, John Lee, the acting Chief Executive, said in a speech that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress implemented the National Security Law in Hong Kong and amended the SAR’s electoral system over the past one year, halting chaos and restoring order in Hong Kong and implementing “patriots administering Hong Kong.”
Lee said the two major measures taken by the central government had laid a solid foundation for the faithful implementation of “one country, two systems” and the long-term stability of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong police deployed about 10,000 officers to stop people gathering on the streets on Thursday after it banned the annual pro-democracy July 1 marches for the second time for public health reasons.
Police sealed off Victoria Park – the traditional starting point for the marches – and intercepted passers-by and checked their bags in Causeway Bay, Tin Hau and Mong Kok.
Police said they arrested at least 19 people across the territory for various offences, including 11 students for distributing seditious publications in Mong Kok. Police also arrested a 24-year-old man in connection with a suspected firebomb attack at the Chief Executive’s residence in Central in the early hours of Thursday.
They also said in a statement on Friday that they condemned the comments made by some netizens, who praised the knife attacker as a “martyr” and a “brave person.”
They slammed these netizens for openly supporting the serious violent illegal act, inciting hatred and attempting to romanticize and heroicize a cold-blooded attack that was devoid of humanity.
Simon Cheng Man-kit, a Hong Kong activist who fled to London and was granted asylum in June 2020, said the Hong Kong government should look into the cause of the tragic attack. Cheng said people had to use extreme methods to express their opinions as they felt desperate under the authorities’ tightening control.
Protests in the UK
At 6pm on Thursday London time, Cheng and some Hong Kong activists rallied in front of the Chinese Embassy in the United Kingdom. The protest was joined by more than a hundred Hongkongers who moved to Britain. The protesters then marched to China Town for another pro-democracy rally, which was attended by several hundred people. Similar protests were held in several other UK cities.
Finn Lau, another Hong Kong activist who fled to the UK, said in a speech in London that the man who stabbed an officer was a “martyr” as he was willing to sacrifice his life to express an opposite view against the National Security Law. Lau said he felt sad for the death of the man. He said all democratic supporters should stay united.
New People’s Party, a pro-Beijing political group, said the man was affected by anti-China and anti-police sentiments in society and had planned the “lone-wolf” attack in advance. It said violence would not help resolve any problem.
The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions said the brutal attack challenged the Hong Kong SAR’s rule of law and should not be tolerated in any civilized society. It urged the police to investigate the case.
Hong Kong-based commentator Wong On-yin said in his YouTube channel that it was not wrong to categorize the attack as an attempted murder and label it “lone wolf-style” as no accomplice had been identified so far. However, Wong said it was arguable whether it should be called a terrorist attack, which usually is indiscriminate and causes public panic.
It was not the first time that frontline police officers were stabbed at work since anti-extradition protests broke out in June 2019. On October 13, 2019, an 18-year-old secondary school student was arrested for allegedly slashing the neck of a policeman with a cutter in a MTR station in Kung Tong. He faced an attempted murder charge. The officer has recovered.
On July 1, 2020, a police officer was stabbed at his left arm with a knife by a man who helped a subdued protester escape in Tin Hau. The police later arrested a 24-year-old suspected of the attack on a plane which was about to depart for London after they received a call from an anonymous informant. The man faced assault and riot charges.