Sunday 22 September 2019

Hong Kong protesters plan march to US Embassy

The move comes a day after attempts to disrupt transport to the city’s international airport were thwarted by police.

Protesters shout slogans at a shopping mall in Hong Kong on Saturday (Vincent Yu/AP)
Protesters shout slogans at a shopping mall in Hong Kong on Saturday (Vincent Yu/AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

Demonstrators in Hong Kong planned to march to the US Embassy on Sunday to drum up international support for their months-long protest movement, a day after attempts to disrupt transport to the city’s international airport were thwarted by police.

The planned march from a central park to the embassy follows yet another night of clashes between police and protesters in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Hong Kong has been rocked by a summer of unrest kicked off by a proposed law that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

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Riot police check a passenger’s bag at the airport express station in central Hong Kong (Vincent Yu/AP))

Many saw the extradition Bill as a glaring example of the Chinese territory’s eroding autonomy since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.

Hong Kong’s government promised last week to withdraw the Bill — an early demand of protesters — but that has failed to appease the demonstrators, who have widened their demands to include other issues, such as greater democracy.

The unrest has become the biggest challenge to Beijing’s rule since Hong Kong’s return from Britain. Beijing and the entirely state-controlled media have portrayed the protests as an effort by criminals to split the territory from China, backed by hostile foreigners.

The US State Department said in a travel advisory on Friday that Beijing has undertaken a propaganda campaign “falsely accusing the United States of fomenting unrest in Hong Kong”. It said US citizens and embassy staff have been the target of the propaganda and urged them to exercise increased caution.

Some US politicians have spoken out strongly in support of the Hong Kong protesters and voiced concern about the potential for a brutal crackdown by China.

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Riot police stand guard at airport express central station in Hong Kong (Vincent Yu/AP)

President Donald Trump, however, has indicated that the US would stay out of a matter he considers to be between Hong Kong and China. He has said he believes the US trade war with China is making Beijing tread carefully.

On Saturday, Hong Kong police stopped the planned disruption at the airport with a security blitz that included checking passengers on trains and buses heading to the airport and limiting train services.

Hong Kong’s airport, the world’s eighth busiest, has been a frequent target during the protests. Airport operations ran normally on Saturday following the security operation.

Protesters instead staged rallies at subway stations and malls owned by the rail link operator MTR, accusing it of helping police during a recent violent raid at one station.

The Prince Edward station was shut for a second day on Saturday after protesters started gathering, laying white flowers and burned paper offerings at the station’s exit as a sign of mourning.

When protesters refused to disperse and began setting fire to debris near the station, riot police chased them and used pepper spray.

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Protesters shout slogans at a shopping mall in Hong Kong on Saturday (Vincent Yu/AP)

The station has been a focus this past week for protesters, who want the rail operator to release security camera footage to substantiate rumours that some people died during the police raid.

Police have reiterated that there have been no deaths since the protests began in early June and condemned the online rumours as malicious.

Violent clashes separately took place at a station in Sha Tin new town, where protesters chased police officers into the control room before riot police arrived. Several people were detained.

PA Media

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