Protesters clash with police in shopping districts after rally to petition US to resist Beijing

Hong Kong police have fired teargas to disperse protesters in the upmarket Causeway Bay shopping district, after demonstrators rallied at the US consulate calling on Donald Trump to liberate the territory.

Police had clashed with protesters in the Centraldistrict as the demonstrations in Hong Kong entered their 14th week. Protesters dispersed to nearby Admiralty, the bar district of Wan Chai and on to Causeway Bay.

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Riot police fire teargas to disperse protesters around the Causeway Bay area after a rally at the US consulate on Sunday. Photograph: Jeon Heon-Kyun/EPA

On Sunday evening activists set up barricades, smashed windows, started street fires and vandalised the mass transit railway (MTR) station in Central.

Home to banks, jewellery shops and luxury shopping arcades, the area was awash with graffiti, broken glass and bricks torn up from pathways. Protesters set fire to cardboard boxes and built barricades with metal fencing.

We cant leave because there are riot police, said Oscar, a 20-year-old protester in Causeway Bay. They fired teargas from the station. We are heading to North Point [east of Causeway Bay].

Several arrests were made.

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Protesters started a fire at an entrance to an MTR station in the citys Central district. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

The violence followed an earlier march during which thousands of protesters sang the Star-spangled Banner and called on the US president to liberate the city. They waved US national flags and placards demanding democracy.

Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong and Resist Beijing, liberate Hong Kong were among the slogans shouted before protesters handed over petitions at the consulate.

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The protests on Sunday attracted thousands of demonstrators as the unrest in Hong Kong enters its 14th week. Photograph: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

The US defence secretary, Mark Esper, urged China on Saturday to exercise restraint. He made his call in Paris as police in Hong Kong prevented protesters from blocking access to the airport, but fired teargas for a second night in the densely populated district of Mong Kok.

Last month Trump suggested China should humanely settle the problem in Hong Kong before a trade deal is reached with Washington. Trump had previously called the protests riots that were a matter for China to deal with.

Hong Kong was returned to China from British rule in 1997 under a one country, two systems formula that guaranteed freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland. Many Hong Kong residents fear Beijing is eroding that autonomy.

China denies the accusation of meddling and says Hong Kong is an internal affair. It has denounced the protests, accusing the US and Britain of fomenting unrest, and has warned of damage to the economy.

Hong Kongs chief executive, Carrie Lam, announced concessions this week aimed at ending the protests, including formally scrapping a hugely unpopular extradition bill that ignited the unrest in June.

The bill would have allowed the extradition of people to mainland China to stand trial in courts controlled by Chinas ruling Communist party. Hong Kong has an independent judiciary dating back to British rule.

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Protesters set up barricades in the Wan Chai district, one of several areas hit by violence in Hong Kong on Sunday. Photograph: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

But the demonstrations have long since broadened into calls for greater democracy and many protesters responded to Lams concessions by saying they were too little, too late.

US legislation addressing Chinas actions in Hong Kong will be among the top priorities pushed by Democrats in the US Senate when Congress returns to work after a recess next week, their leader, Chuck Schumer, said on Thursday.

Schumer urged the Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who sets the floor agenda, to bring up a bipartisan bill that would require an annual justification of the special treatment afforded by Washington to Hong Kong. This includes special trade and business privileges under the US Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.

The legislation, called the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, would also mandate that officials in China and Hong Kong who have undermined the citys autonomy be vulnerable to sanctions.

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Protesters called on Donald Trump and Washington to liberate Hong Kong. Photograph: Vivek Prakash/AFP/Getty Images

In their petition handed to the US consulate, the Hong Kong protesters urged that the bill be passed in full.

Meanwhile, the activist Joshua Wong was rearrested at Hong Kong airport on Sunday for allegedly breaching bail conditions.

One of the leaders of the pro-democracy umbrella movement behind protests in Hong Kong five years ago, Wong had been granted bail on 30 August after being charged with inciting and participating in an unauthorised assembly outside police headquarters in June.

Preliminary legal advice suggested that the court had acknowledged and approved my trips to Germany and the US when it granted bail on 30 August, Wong said in a statement. Therefore, it is believed that there are some mistakes that have been made on the bail certificate.

He said he expected to be freed on Monday.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

 

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