Andrew Chiu, a prodemocracy district councilor in Hong Kong, was attempting to stop a knife-wielding assailant from attacking protesters in November 2019 when the attacker broke free and lunged at him. The man pulled Chiu close in a belligerent embrace, sank his teeth into Chiu’s left ear, then snapped his head back and, as Chiu reached up to find blood spilling from his head, spat a sinuous chunk of flesh onto the brick sidewalk.
An attempt to reattach Chiu’s ear was unsuccessful. He spent 19 days in the hospital recovering. Later, during his attacker’s trial, Chiu gave testimony recalling the grotesque “pluck” sound he heard as his appendage was ripped from his head. The assault fleetingly elevated Chiu in the leaderless prodemocracy movement, his ordeal held up by protesters as an example of the viciousness of supporters of the Chinese Communist Party. Chiu continued his activism, campaigning and making public appearances with a large bandage covering the left side of his head until he was arrested in 2021 for violating the national-security law imposed by Beijing.