Friday, 18 October, 2019

Hundreds of thousands protest peacefully against Hong Kong extradition bill

On Thursday Chinese forces gathered in Shenzhen across the border from Hong Kong On Thursday Chinese forces gathered in Shenzhen across the border from Hong Kong
Patty Aguilar | 22 August, 2019, 15:00

Tens of thousands of protesters defied a rainstorm and the threat of more clashes with police on Sunday in one of the biggest pro-democracy demonstrations yet in Hong Kong.

All eyes were on whether the rally, which had been peaceful throughout the afternoon, would devolve into violent clashes between police and protesters as has been the case in the ongoing protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, now in the throes of a deepening political crisis, the Efe news reported.

It was a far cry from the violent clashes between protesters and riot police throughout the summer, with activists storming the legislature and targeting China's main Liaison Office in the city.

She said only a few protesters had used violence, sparingly, and that it was brought on by pressure from authorities and police. They have since swelled into wider calls for democracy.

Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula that promised wide-ranging freedoms denied to citizens in mainland China, but many in the city believe Beijing has been eroding those freedoms.

The movement's demands include Ms Lam's resignation, democratic elections and an independent investigation into police use of force.

Professor Sing says such intervention is unlikely to take place. "We have to continue until the government finally shows us the respect that we deserve", he said.

The Civil Human Rights Front had organized three previous massive marches in Hong Kong since June. Despite rally organisers not having permission to march, the park could not accommodate the crowd, which thronged the streets around the park.

Most recently on August 18, more than 1.7 million Hongkongers walked the streets of Hong Kong in heavy rain, defying a police ban, to continue calling on the government to engage with their demands.

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He spoke out as more protests were planned on Sunday following a day of rival rallies which highlighted the political divide in the Chinese territory.

"Hong Kong people are still incredibly united, to the point where they come out even in this heavy downpour", Ho said.

The Chinese Communist Party's official People's Daily newspaper warned again in an editorial on Monday that hostile foreign influences were inciting the protest movement.

More directly, President Donald Trump could issue an executive order suspending Hong Kong's special trading status with the USA, which could have a devastating effect on the local economy at a time when Beijing and Washington are engaged in a bitter trade war.

"If Hong Kong is still not ready to embrace opportunities to join the country's development. the city's development would be "very limited in the future while Shenzhen is running at a much faster speed", said Tian Feilong, a professor at Beihang University, speaking to the Global Times.

"As the protests gathered momentum, President Trump waded into the debate, declaring: "I think it'd be very hard to deal if they do violence, I mean, if it's another Tiananmen Square", adding", I think it's a very hard thing to do if there's violence". Police have come under criticism for using increasingly aggressive tactics to break up demonstrations and on Sunday some people handed out balloons resembling eyeballs, a reference to the injury suffered by a female medic who was hospitalised after being hit by a pellet round in the eye.

Numerous protesters taking part in Sunday's rally wore masks to protect their identity.

"Love Hong Kong, love China; no secession, no violence", people from the pro-China group chanted, many waving the Chinese national flag. The State Council called on Monday for greater development of the so-called Greater Bay Area and to enrich the "one country, two systems" policy.

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