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Hong Kong protests: With violence escalating, elections emerge as new flash

Violence escalated this week after police shot and wounded a 21-year-old protestor on Monday.

On the same day, protesters flooded a 57-year-old man with fluid and set him on fire. Both victims remained at the hospital Tuesday.

Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing now have to decide whether to proceed with the November 24 local elections. If not, many protesters would see it as another sign of power

More questions on the vote were raised on Tuesday. The People Daily, the Communist Party's mouthpiece, posted a comment on its social media accounts supporting Hong Kong's crackdown on protesters and said the vote should only continue if calm in China's semi-autonomous territory is restored.

"It is only through the support of the police that a force for a decisive reduction of riots can [Hong Kong] return to peace and hold fair elections to help Hong Kong restart," it said. Faced with escalating threats, the government has said the Hong Kong government has the right to regulate street violence caused by opposition parties and extremist forces.

At the University of China, the campus section is turning into someone's land.

dressed demonstrators, behind umbrellas and countertops, tossed bricks and gas bombs. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets from a narrow bridge, lifting veiny pink and orange clouds.

At one point, police offered to stop tear gas if students were pulled back. However, they later deployed a water cannon to the university to force protesters to disperse. The students remained guarding the university at night even when the police had left.

"We have already suffered hundreds of tear gas and bullets. If we leave, everyone will be arrested, "said a masked protestor.

The University Fitness Room was transformed into a makeshift first aid center for injury management. According to hospital management, 51

people were injured between 7:30 a.m. and midnight Tuesday, the youngest of which is a baby.

Clashes have flared up elsewhere in Hong Kong, including at the City University and central business districts at noon. Near City University, protesters ran through the mall and set fire to a Christmas tree.

"Our society has been pushed to the brink of total disintegration," senior police chief Kong Wing-cheung told reporters. He added that nearly 300 people were arrested on Monday alone, with 60 percent of them students.

Universities in Hong Kong are home to thousands of international students, most of whom come from mainland China. On Tuesday, the Association of Students and Scholars of the City University announced in the Chinese messaging app WeChat that they could provide transportation for students hoping to return to Shenzhen, a Chinese city bordering Hong Kong. Several Chinese students interviewed by The Post were planning to return home or were in the process of developing travel plans.

"I was so scared when I came across the protesters, all in black," said a student from mainland China who was caught in clashes at Hong Kong University of China, giving only her last name – Yan. "The sound of brick tossing still echoes in my ears."

23-year-old Yan has already returned to Shenzhen and said he will return to Hong Kong only after the situation is "normal."

An election in the constituency would allow a polarized city to vote in the only relatively free electoral exercise in Hong Kong.

The duties of district councilors are largely local, but their seats represent a significant portion of the committee that elects the CEO of Hong Kong and the other half is selected by the Chinese government. The pro-democracy camp hopes to seize public anger at the Beijing-backed city administration, which has unleashed protesting forces demanding full democracy and police accountability.

Hong Kong leader Kari Lam, whose approval rating collapsed to a record low of about 20 percent, received the support of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. But with that support comes the expectation that Lam will use the necessary funds to restore order in Hong Kong, now in its six-month demonstration.

As Lam invokes emergency powers to ban face masks in public meetings – which protesters use to protect them from surveillance and tear gas – some lawmakers worry that the government may use the same powers to delay elections, citing of political turmoil, said Dennis Kwok Winghang, a lawmaker representing Hong Kong's legal sector.

Fears of cancellation are not unfounded. , In recent weeks, authorities have arrested several Democratic MPs and candidates who are running for district council members. Democratic activist Joshua Wong was barred from running. Violence against advisers has increased: prostitution figure Unius Ho was stabbed during a campaign, and a pro-Democratic district councilor was bitten by the ear during a knife-wrestling riot. Jimmy Sham, an organizer of Democratic marches and an election candidate, was attacked by a hammer gang.

Asked Tuesday if he would consider delaying the vote, Lam told reporters that the government "hopes the election can go ahead as planned." "

In recent days, the Hong Kong Election Commission has called on the public to" stop all threats and violence in order to support elections in a peaceful and orderly manner. "

Although Beijing's politicians are likely to face an election loss, delaying this month's vote will only get worse," said Ma Ngok, a Hong Kong policy professor at Hong Kong University in Hong Kong.

"Voters would accept this as manipulation and could go out in greater numbers," he said, adding that there was no legal provision to cancel the election but only to postpone it for a short period.

Although moderates in the Prokindian camp consider elections to be a way out, it kills the anger peacefully and wants to continue this, Ma sees a power struggle in which hard people want urgent powers used entirely to cancel elections and thus preserve your power. But the declaration of a state of emergency will cause "a major shock from the international community" that would irreparably damage Hong Kong's reputation, Ma said.

A recent poll by the Hong Kong Institute of Public Opinion found that 70 percent of those polled were opposed to delaying elections.

"More important than ever is this election," says a 20-year-old engineering student who looks after a protest barricade at Hong Kong University. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. If the elections were not held, he said, "the government will break another path of political reform and urge people to take more radical action."

Anna Fifield in Beijing, Shibani Makhtani in Washington and Tiffany Liang in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

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