The Hong Kong police have confirmed that they have purchased tear gas canisters made in mainland China, following a report that claimed the force planned to use Chinese-made canisters.

Local Chinese-language newspaper Oriental Daily cited unnamed police sources on Thursday as reporting that their stock of tear gas canisters made overseas had almost dried up. The police, therefore, planned to switch to Chinese-made tear gas canisters.

Asked about the report, Police Senior Superintendent (Operations) Wong Wai-shun confirmed at a Friday press conference that the police were using ammunition made by a manufacturer in the mainland.

Wong Wai-shun
Wong Wai-shun. File Photo:

Wong said the police source ammunition globally and contact manufacturers for tests. The police consider the effectiveness of the ammunition, price and shipping, he said.

“We did not specifically import [ammunition made in] mainland or other places,” he said.

Wong refused to reveal the name of the manufacturer of the ammunition, saying that it was a sensitive matter.

The police have arrested more than 2,300 people and fired more than 3,000 canisters of tear gas since mass protests started in June against an extradition bill which will officially be scrapped next week. The protests have evolved into wider demands for democracy and an investigation into alleged police brutality.

china extradition august 3 kowloon

The force previously admitted that they had used expired tear gas canisters, but promised that expired stocks would not be used anymore.

Human rights groups including Amnesty International have called on authorities around the world to suspend all transfers of less-lethal crowd control equipment to Hong Kong, including water cannon vehicles, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and projectile launchers.

October 1 National Day protests Hong Kong Island Wan Chai Admiralty Causeway Bay tear gas
Photo: Aidan Marzo/HKFP.

The police have used weaponry made in the UK and the US. In June, the UK suspended export licences for crowd control equipment to the city, though there were reportedly no live export licences active at the time.

The US Protect Hong Kong Act – aimed at prohibiting the sale of crowd control weapon to the Hong Kong police – was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee last month. It was proposed by US House Representative Jim McGovern.

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Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.