Hong Kong mask ban brings no sign of ending protests as leadership threatens to involve Beijing forces

  • Video report by ITV News Asia Editor Debi Edward

The summer of discontent in Hong Kong is over and a protracted and a potentially far more dangerous deadlock between the government and protesters has begun.

In the few days since the introduction of emergency legislation banning face masks, the temperature of the protests has risen, and with the government today indicating it could extend its powers or even turn to China for support, that will likely provoke more anger.

There is also a battle for the moral high ground in this four-month-long crisis.

The government insists it has the support of the people in wanting to see an end to the violence, while the majority of those we see and speak to seem to condemn the violence but understand the frontline protesters have been left with no choice.

Violent clashes have taken place on Hong Kong's streets. Credit: AP

What has become even more stark in recent weeks and the past week in particular, is the number of young school students taking part in the demonstrations and nightly standoffs with police. The two shootings there have been so far have involved an 18-year-old secondary school pupil and a 14-year-old.

Several 12-year-olds are known to be among the hundreds arrested.

Mainland China claims they are being radicalised in their schools and by older protesters - and schools in Hong Kong are failing to provide them with a patriotic education.

This morning we went to two schools where they were holding pre-class protests as they returned to school following their October break and following the introduction of the mask ban.

We found the teenagers we spoke to to be informed, intelligent and sadly at odds with their parents. One boy told us his parents have warned him he won’t have a home to return to if he keeps joining the marches. He hopes it is an empty threat and believes he is disobeying them for a greater cause.

A teacher in the Sha Tin district of Hong Kong told us that he and his fellow teachers have started a network so that they can quickly identify school kids when they are arrested or hospitalised. He’s on standby every night and worried every day that one of his pupils will fail to turn up for class.

He rejects the government's demand that it is his responsibility and that of parents to report children wearing masks and taking part in the protests.

He has spoke to his pupils about the ongoing political crisis and the legal ins and outs of the mask ban. It’s his role to inform his students, he told me, telling them not to join the protests would be no good.

After a bruising week in Hong Kong, a ceasefire has taken hold tonight but there are more protests planned for the coming weeks.

There could be a potential flashpoint next week with Chief Executive Carrie Lam set to give her annual policy address on October 16th and the US Senate to push forward with its Hong Kong Human Rights bill.

Leader Lam has faced significant opposition from her people - but not threatens to get mainland China involved. Credit: AP

It would establish punitive measures against government officials in the city and in China who were deemed to be suppressing Hong Kong's basic freedoms.

There is still no end in sight to this crisis in Hong Kong.