Hong Kong police chief Stephen Lo has confirmed that police are using tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bags to clear protesters around Admiralty.

See also: ‘Do not try to break the law’: Hong Kong’s no. 2 official urges protesters stop occupying roads and leave

Addressing the media, he deemed the anti-extradition law protests on Wednesday a “riot” though ruled out asking the People’s Liberation Army for assistance or imposing a curfew.

See also: Emotional leader Carrie Lam says she ‘sacrificed’ for Hong Kong, as police use tear gas, rubber bullets to clear protests

Photo: HKFP.

Lo said police were forced to take action as “protesters would have used metal bars to stab our colleagues.”

See also: ‘Hong Kong will bleed’: Hong Kong police use tear gas as protesters try to storm legislature

“Concerning whether or not the police should take the blame, I think all of us should think about who initiated the violence,” he said.

In a video message issued at around 1pm, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said people occupying roads should go back to the pavements as soon as possible so that traffic can resume: “I urge people who gathered to keep calm, restrained, and disperse peacefully as soon as possible, and do not try to break the law.”

The legal amendments were tabled in February to allow the city to handle case-by-case extradition requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements, most notably China and Taiwan.

It would enable the chief executive and local courts to handle extradition requests without legislative oversight. However, democrats, lawyers, journalistsforeign politicians and businesses have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland, which lacks human rights safeguards.

Tom is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Quartz, Global Post and others.