Asia Politics

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam calls protesters selfish for 'paralyzing' the city

Key Points
  • Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the protesters "paralyzing" the city are selfish.
  • On Monday morning local time, a police officer shot a protester who is now in critical condition. A hospital press officer who spoke to CNBC confirmed that the 21-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound.
  • In a separate incident, police said "rioters" poured "flammable liquid" on a man and set him on fire. Police said they are investigating the fire attack and made no mention of arrests.
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam leaves her annual policy address due to disruptions by pro-democracy lawmakers in the Legislative Council on October 16, 2019.
Anthony Wallace | AFP | Getty Images

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Tuesday that the protesters "paralyzing" the city are selfish.

Lam added that the city's government is still doing its best to hold a fair, safe, and orderly district council election, scheduled for later this month.

She made her comments during a regular media address a day after Hong Kong saw the most violent day since the protests started nearly six months ago.

On Monday morning local time, a police officer shot a protester who is now in critical condition. A hospital press officer confirmed to CNBC that the 21-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound.

The police spokesperson said the officer involved in the shooting fired three times. That incident occurred at around 7 a.m. outside the Sai Wan Ho Mass Transit Railway station.

In a separate incident, police said "rioters" poured "flammable liquid" on a man and set him on fire. Speaking at an afternoon press conference, Hong Kong police said the incident occurred at the Ma On Shan MTR station and that the man is in critical condition at a hospital.

Police said they are investigating the fire attack and made no mention of arrests.

Disturbing and graphic videos of those two incidents and other violence circulated widely on social media Monday.

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What is Hong Kong's relationship with China?

Hong Kong — a former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997 — has been crippled by widespread demonstrations since early June. It operates as a semi-autonomous territory under the "one country, two systems" principle — a structure that grants Hong Kong citizens some degree of financial and legal independence from the mainland.

What started out as protests against an extradition bill has morphed into broader anti-government demonstrations, including a wider range of demands such as greater democracy and universal suffrage. A majority of the protesters have been young students from university and high schools.

Lam said on Tuesday that she hopes universities and schools urge students to not participate in any illegal activities.

Most universities in Hong Kong have reportedly suspended classes on Tuesday.

On Monday, Reuters reported that Lam said the violence roiling the former British colony exceeded protesters' demands for democracy and demonstrators are now the people's enemy.

In China, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a scheduled press briefing on Tuesday that ending the violence in Hong Kong is the most important thing now, Reuters reported.

— CNBC's Ted Kemp and Vivian Kam contributed to this report.

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Key Points
  • A Hong Kong protester is in critical condition after being shot by police on Monday.
  • Separately, a man was doused with an unknown liquid and set aflame. He also is in critical condition, said police.
  • The latest mass demonstrations come after three pro-democracy lawmakers were arrested on Saturday.