Hong Kong: The Battle of No. 2 Bridge
In the last six months of unrest in Hong Kong, never was there a time like the Battle of No. 2 Bridge. It’s likely that November 12, 2019 may be most remembered for an unlikely victory against all odds when university students wielding crude weapons defeated a highly modernized police force.
For most of that Tuesday afternoon the riot police controlled the eastern No. 2 Bridge, situated over Tolo Highway and train tracks which are major arteries in the New Territories region, and situated on the perimeter of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).
At roughly 3:15 the riot police charged up the hillside and stormed CUHK campus with hundreds of protesting students retreating deeper into the safety of the tertiary institution. With journalists onlooking, students held vigilant at Sir Philip Haddon-Cave Sports Field, which was covered in lingering tear gas. Rising from the campus-battlefield, the sound of weapons firing could be heard for roughly twenty minutes while plumes of smoke could be seen across the harbor on Hong Kong island.
By 5 pm CUHK’s Vice-Chancellor Rocky Tuan and other senior executives negotiated a ceasefire between students and riot police, with an agreement struck for the police to retreat off the campus and back to the bridge.
By 7 pm, with hundreds of students still fighting behind barricades, Vice-Chancellor Rocky Tuan walked towards the police lines in an attempt at a second negotiation with riot police in hopes of having the police force committing to a full withdrawal from the Sha Tin-based campus in order to calm escalating tension and diffuse the conflict.
Instead, the riot police ignored attempts at further negotiations and fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the Vice-Chancellor, at his university staff, at journalists and at the protesters. Vice-Chancellor Rocky Tuan and his staff were quickly escorted to safety.
The students resumed their advances on the bridge armed with Molotov cocktails, bricks, umbrellas, bows and arrows, and shields, with one unorthodox protester wielding a chainsaw. Like modern-day Robin Hoods taking on Communism in the former British colony, they crouched behind a massive round table, as though the size of it looked to have once belonged to King Arthur himself. Onwards the students came, despite a storm of sponge grenades, rubber bullets and toxic gas.
White smoke from fires covered the bridge where riot police held position. Steadily the university students pressed forward seeking greater democracy and dedicating themselves to the pursuit of true Universal Suffrage. They have nothing to lose but everything to gain.
By 9 pm the university students had taken control of the bridge.
Students assemble barricade on Bridge No.2 (YouTube screen grab)
The riot police responded by unleashing a water-cannon truck shooting blue-dyed water at the protesting battalion. Despite an onslaught of more tear gas, sponge grenades and rubber bullets, the university students moved as if they were a single-unified body and they held fast to their positions behind makeshift barricades and barriers.
By 10:30 pm the riot police made a full retreat from No. 2 Bridge and forfeited the area to the pro-democracy protesters. Once more the bridge was controlled by the university students who threw objects down onto the highway and train tracks, further blocking public transport systems.
By the end of the night, alongside raging fires and pillars of smoke, victorious protesters waved their battalion’s flag ever higher, a black flag with the white lettering which read “Free Hong Kong — Revolution Now!”
Cheers rang out loud and firm because these university students of CUHK had defeated the riot police and won the Battle of No. 2 Bridge.
What followed in the days thereafter were universities across Hong Kong being turned into fortresses while classes for the semester were canceled. Thousands of mainland Chinese students fled their campuses and returned back to China.
What Carrie Lam and her government fail to comprehend is that they are beholden to the people. The common woman and man will always have a choice, even if that means to fight or to die, because freedom is never given -- freedom is defended.
Right now, young Hongkongers in universities all across the city are fighting for their futures, they are willing to die for liberty, which (ultimately) is absolute.
The world watches while young kids, many as young as twelve, are fending off Communism in their former British colony. What’s at stake are identity, culture, and ways of life engrained in the free and democratic.
Who knows, years from now, decades even, the generation to come along next may read about the Hong Kong protests and just might sing songs of the battalion at the Battle of No. 2 Bridge.