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Hong Kong protesters have 'the university to themselves'

Anti-government protesters sit as local residents remove a barricade outside the University of Hong Kong, in Hong Kong, China, November 16, 2019.
Anti-government protesters sit as local residents remove a barricade outside the University of Hong Kong, in Hong Kong, China, November 16, 2019. REUTERS - ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA

As anti-government protests continue in Hong Kong, students and other demonstrators took over major school campuses his week, building barricades on at least five campuses and stockpiling petrol bombs amid four days of the some of the worst violence in decades in the former British colony.

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The five-month crisis in Hong Kong entered a new phase on Monday when hardcore protesters embarked on a campaign to “blossom everywhere” across the international financial hub, in a bid to stretch police resources as thinly as possible.

At the barricaded Polytechnic University, protesters have been practicing their skills with bows and arrows and petrol bombs in a half-empty swimming pool.

“There have been moments where they have battled with police with tear gas, but they’ve pretty much got the university to themselves now. They’ve barricaded it on three to four sides,” FRANCE 24 correspondent Oliver Farry reports from the campus in Kowloon. The protesters “also even managed to shut down the Cross-Harbour Tunnel crossing, which is right next door to the university and one of the three ways that Hong Kongers can pass from the Kowloon peninsula to Hong Kong Island.”

While demonstrations earlier tended to be confined to weeknights and weekends, protesters have throughout this work week managed to paralyse parts of city. “Whether it’s eventually going to tire the patience of Hong Kongers is another thing,” Farry reports. “This is probably something that the government is gambling on because they know that it has been very, very hard so far to alienate the protesters from the public...”

With no end to the protests in sight, analysts warn the financial and trading centre potentially faces a longer and deeper slump than during the global financial crisis a decade ago and the SARS epidemic in 2003. According to government data confirmed on Friday, Hong Kong sank into recession for the first time in a decade in the third quarter, weighed down by the increasingly violent protests and an escalating US-China trade war.

To watch Oliver Farry's report from Hong Kong's Polytechnic University, click on the player above.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

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