Chinese citizens are rushing to donate money to the families of two Hong Kong men attacked during the city’s ongoing political unrest.
The South China Morning Post reported that Huang Xiaoming, one of China’s highest paid actors, was one of more than 100,000 to recently contribute to a fund for the family of Lee Chi-cheung, 57, who was set on fire, and for relatives of a cleaner who was killed by a brick during a street clash.
Mr Lee was left fighting for his life after the horrific attack, which took place earlier in November during an altercation with masked protesters who had vandalised a metro station.
A graphic video of the assault shows a shocked Mr Lee being doused in flammable liquid and then set on fire, leaving him with second-degree burns to 28 percent of his body.
The footage sparked widespread condemnation in China and Hong Kong and an interview this week with his devastated wife went viral on Chinese state TV, CGTN, when she revealed that he was still in a coma and needed skin grafts on his hands, chest, abdomen and face.
The second victim, Mr Luo, 70, was hit on the head by a flying brick when residents in the suburb of Sheung Shui fought with protesters. The police are treating the case as murder.
According to the Post, a fund set up by the Shanghai Charity Foundation and several media organisations raised more than $284,000 for the families.
A second donation drive by the China Social Welfare Foundation and Global Times newspaper raised more than $210,000.
As violence escalates in the unrest that has enveloped the global financial hub for close to six months, social media has become a virtual battleground. Many incidents are being recorded and live streamed, whipping up emotions on both sides of the political divide.
Chinese state and social media, including the messaging app, WeChat, have focused heavily on isolated assaults by protesters on supporters of Beijing, giving a filtered version of the bigger picture and paying scant attention to documented incidents of alleged police brutality.
Chinese social media commentary routinely uses words like “thugs” and “cockroaches” to describe the protesters and has celebrated hard-line Hong Kong police officers as heroes.
In Hong Kong, where social media is uncensored, protesters regularly share information on Twitter, Telegram and Whatsapp, to reveal heavy-handed police tactics. Many have also condemned violent acts by members of the pro-democracy camp.
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