Hong Kong students go on strike, China issues warning, and Demosistō vice chair Isaac Cheng assaulted

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      In Hong Kong, many thousands of students refused to return to school and university today as part of a continuing wave of protests.

      Many wore masks, helmets, and goggles, which has become a uniform of sorts for young demonstrators.

      These have also been worn by others who've protested in the airport, the Legislative Council building, and the streets of the former British colony, making it difficult for authorities to identify them.

      Even a statue of the first president of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-sen, was adorned this way to send a message to authorities.

      There was a heavy presence of Hong Kong police at the school strikes, according to photos distributed over Twitter.

      The Hong Kong government led by Chief Executive Carrie Lam has not granted any of the movement's five demands, which include universal suffrage.

      In a recording obtained by Reuters, Lam claimed to have little latitude in this situation. She even said that if she could quit, she would.

      “[T]he political room for the chief executive who, unfortunately, has to serve two masters by constitution, that is the central people’s government and the people of Hong Kong, that political room for manoeuvring is very, very, very limited.”

      The demonstrators are also calling for the release of jailed protesters.

      In addition, they want a commission of inquiry into the actions of the police.

      Police have responded by spraying blue dye from water cannons to identify the protesters.

      There's also an allegation that police are using a substance that glows on the skin.

      Meanwhile, in a toughly worded editorial, the Chinese state-owned Xinhua news service has warned that the violence in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region "must end now".

      "There are three bottom lines which must not be crossed: no one should harm the national sovereignty and security; no one should challenge the power of the central authorities and the authority of the Basic Law of the HKSAR; no one should use Hong Kong to infiltrate and undermine the mainland," the editorial stated.

      It also mentioned the detention of "nearly 900 people suspected of taking part in violent crimes, including Joshua Wong Chi-fun and Andy Chan Ho-tin, leaders of political groups advocating 'Hong Kong's independence.' "

      Chan is the leader of the pro-independence National Party of Hong Kong.

      Wong is the chair of Demosistō, which grew out of the 2014 students' uprising known as the Umbrella Movement. 

      According to Demosistō's Twitter account, its vice chairman and spokesperson, Isaac Cheng, was assaulted near his home today.

      "He was repeatedly punched in the face and lost his glasses," the party revealed. "Our members are now accompanying him to a hospital check-up."

      Demosistō has called for a referendum to determine Hong Kong's sovereignty before the one country–two systems governing system expires in 2047.

      South China Morning Post accused of bias 

      The most-read English-language newspaper published in Hong Kong has also come under criticism for its front page following last weekend's demonstrations.

      The South China Morning Post was bought by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2016.

      Not everyone is convinced that China's leaders will dispatch the People's Liberation Army into Hong Kong as they did in Tiananmen Square to crush a students' protest in 1989.

      In a recent interview with the Georgia Straight, Chinese journalist and author Alison Zhou said that President Xi Jinping faces much greater risks than Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng ever did.

      That's because China's economy has grown far larger, so if there's economic fallout from an assault on Hong Kong, it could have a serious effect on the standard of living in China.

      This, in turn, could undermine the stability of Xi's leadership, according to Zhao, who's studying for her master's degree at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

      "There actually will be a very devastating shock in the Chinese economy," Zhao predicted if there ever is a military move into Hong Kong. "Then it's hard to say. If the economy suddenly gets shocked, what will happen inside mainland China?"

      Alison Zhao, author of Her Battles about female reformers in China, will give a free "Hope Talk" today at 3:15 p.m. in CBC Studio 700 in Vancouver as part of the Vancouver TaiwanFest celebration.