Protesters in plea to China tourists over Hong Kong
Protesters in Hong Kong took their message to a new audience yesterday - mainland Chinese tourists - because coverage of the anti-government movement has been heavily censored by Beijing authorities.
Thousands marched through popular tourist areas in the first major demonstration since last Monday, when a small group of protesters seized the city's legislature.
Organisers said about 230,000 turned out for the protests, though police said the turnout was 56,000 at its peak. Many chatted with the Chinese tourists, explaining privileges enjoyed in Hong Kong, a former colony whose freedoms are guaranteed in an agreement that went into effect when the British handed the territory back to Beijing.
Others detailed why controversy erupted over an extradition proposal that would send suspects to face trial in China, where the ruling Communist Party largely controls the courts.
State media coverage of the protests that brought millions to the streets and have agitated Hong Kong for a month - ending in police spraying tear gas and firing rubber bullets - has been heavily restricted in China, largely focused on condemning demonstrators for engaging in violent clashes with the police.
The waves of people out on the street were greeted with bemusement by Chinese tourists, some of whom were visiting Hong Kong for the first time and had never seen a demonstration before. "I don't really understand the issue," said Miao Yiwen (20), a university student.
"I don't get what's going on. Why is everyone so easily excitable?" she said, as the sound of protesters chanting rose into the air.
Another visitor, Summer (20), said it was "stupid" of Hong Kong people to organise such a demonstration.
"If you do this - have a lot of people to come out to demonstrate - then for sure there will be some unforeseen impacts on the economy, on tourism," he said, declining to give a surname. He thought the demonstrations would leave a bad impression on foreigners. (© Daily Telegraph, London)