Hong Kong police up the ante with point-blank shooting of an 18-year-old

Hong Kong's four-month-long street protests against the government saw the first shooting of a protester by police on Tuesday. The victim, an 18-year-old high-school student, was shot in the chest at close range but is expected to survive.


The demonstrations and clashes with police raged across the territory as Beijing celebrated 70 years of Communist Party rule with a massive parade and military display in Tiananmen Square.

Public unrest that began over a bill that would have allowed extradition of criminal suspects to the mainland is now a much broader pro-democracy movement against Beijing's expanding influence in Hong Kong affairs.


Impact of the shooting on the movement

The protests have stepped up along with growing public anger against the police. Many in the former British colony have been critical of police violence in the crackdown, and some groups of protesters are responding in kind.

The difficulty for police is both psychological and a shortage of manpower. Hong Kong's chief of police has defended the shooting, saying it was unavoidable.

Professor Toru Kurata at Rikkyo University in Japan says Hong Kong authorities may have underestimated the number of extremists in the movement. He says this may have led police to think that a tough crackdown would lower tensions.
But as the number arrests have grown, more people have come out to support the protests.

Calming the upheaval will take time

In his address to the celebrations in Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China would maintain the "one country, two systems" policy.
The people of Hong Kong, however, believe that policy meant to protect their autonomy is under threat.

While Beijing celebrates, Hong Kong protesters throw eggs at the image of Xi Jinping.

As the gap widens between perceptions in Beijing and Hong Kong, the leadership in China must find a way to contain a situation that risks spiraling into something much bigger.