World

Pro-Beijing lawmaker stabbed in Hong Kong

Man bearing flowers asked for photo before striking Junius Ho with a knife

HONG KONG: A firebrand pro-Beijing politician in Hong Kong was wounded in a knife attack yesterday, the latest tit-for-tat political violence to break out there.

The stabbing came as the city's unpopular leader Carrie Lam said her resolve to crack down on the protesters had been bolstered by a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The international finance hub has been convulsed by five months of huge and increasingly violent protests calling for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability.

With Beijing and Mrs Lam refusing to offer a political solution to the protesters' grievances, violence has spiralled on both sides of the ideological divide.

In the latest incident, a man holding a bouquet approached pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho yesterday morning as the politician was campaigning in his constituency of Tuen Mun, a town on the outskirts of Hong Kong near the border with China. Footage posted online showed the man handing Mr Ho the flowers and asking for a picture. He then pulled a knife from his bag before striking his victim in the chest.

'YOU SCUM'

Police said three people were wounded in the incident, including the attacker, who was subdued by Mr Ho's aides as he shouted in Cantonese: "Junius Ho, you scum!"

A police source, who declined to be named, said Mr Ho received a stab wound to the left side of his chest and the attacker was arrested.

Mr Ho, 57, was conscious when he got into the ambulance. His bloodstained white shirt and wound dressings could be seen on the ground in the aftermath of the attack.

The stabbing came as Mrs Lam wrapped up a series of talks in China with top Communist Party officials, including President Xi who threw his support behind the beleaguered leader when they met on Sunday, according to state media.

Yesterday, hours after the attack, a senior Chinese official said Beijing supported bolder action to tackle the roots of unrest that has rocked Hong Kong.

Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng said at a meeting with Mrs Lam in Beijing that the anti-government protests were damaging the "one country, two systems" formula under which the former British colony has been governed since its handover to China in 1997.

"We firmly support the Special Administrative Region government to adopt more proactive and more effective measures to solve the social problems," said Mr Han, speaking at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.

He said the social problems included unaffordable housing.

Mrs Lam announced housing and land reforms last month in an effort to regain support in one of the world's most expensive housing markets.

She also defended her administration's response to the protests, which have included reviving colonial-era emergency laws. - AFP, REUTERS

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