In a new escalation of violence, Hong Kong police fired live ammunition into the air from their service pistols, as a warning to protesters in the Western New Territories region on Sunday night. The pro-democracy protesters had become increasingly violent and confrontational over the weekend.

As many as 2 million people in Hong Kong have participated in various demonstrations this summer, against a controversial China-extradition bill, and against an encroachment by Beijing upon Hong Kong citizens’ freedoms in general. Most of the larger-scale protests have been peaceful.

However, a hardened and determined group of protesters, perhaps numbering in the several thousands, have become increasingly violent and confrontational with police during the past two weeks.

Equipped with hardhats, goggles, and gas masks, many of these protesters are now wielding sticks and baseball bats to exchange blows with riot police. On Sunday evening, August 25, several of the protesters threw petrol (gasoline) bombs and hurled bricks towards the police lines.

Police also used a mobile water cannon for the first time during Sunday’s protests, to disrupt a make-shift barricade that protesters had set up to block a street in the Tsuen Wan district.

No injuries have been reported during the past two days. However, nearly 60 individual protesters were arrested over the weekend, the youngest reported to be just 12 years old.

President Trump: A trade deal with China would be ‘very hard’ if China resorts to violence in Hong Kong

A day after securing a new trade agreement with Japan, President Trump shared some comments on the situation in Hong Kong, just before departing the G7 Summit in the south of France.

The ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China was among the more urgent topics addressed by European leaders over the weekend. However, President Trump made clear, upon his departure, that he opposed a military response by China in the Hong Kong region. He indicated that it would further deter the already-tense U.S.-China trade negotiations.

“I think it would be very hard to deal if they do violence [in Hong Kong],” President Trump said. “I mean, if it’s another Tiananmen Square, I think it’s a very hard thing to do. I really do believe that if [China restraining itself from violence] weren’t part of the [trade] deal, possibly something would have happened already a long time ago.”

The Chinese government has stationed several thousand troops in the province of Shenzhen, near the Hong Kong border. A limited number of Chinese military personnel stationed inside Hong Kong have also been conducting riot-control drills, ostensibly in preparation to confront pro-democracy demonstrators in the streets.

However, it remains unclear whether Beijing would deploy military troops inside Hong Kong, or whether the moves are an attempt on the part of China’s government to intimidate the protesters.

United Airlines halts service from Chicago to Hong Kong

Citing “very poor demand” for travel service to Hong Kong, United Airlines has suspended all flights from Chicago to Hong Kong, for the time being. United’s decision highlights the effects that the Hong Kong protests are having on tourism in the region, and to Hong Kong’s overall economy as well.

A number of Hong Kong businesses are also reportedly making plans to leave the city in the near future, if the dispute with China is not resolved.