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Hong Kong police fire tear gas at protesters as confrontation looms

Stock MarketsAug 11, 2019 06:55AM ET
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© Reuters. Anti-extradition bill protesters react after police fired tear gas during a demonstration in Sham Shui Po neighbourhood in Hong Kong

By Anne Marie Roantree and Marius Zaharia

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong police fired tear gas at protesters on Sunday as a tenth straight weekend of anti-government demonstrations intensified amid an increasingly aggressive response from the police and Beijing.

Riot police fired volleys of tear gas at crowds of mostly young protesters outside a police station in the working class district of Sham Shui Po. In nearby Cheung Sha Wan, protesters threw objects at police who fired back with tear gas.

The action followed a day of marches by demonstrators of all ages as increasingly violent protests since June have plunged Hong Kong into its most serious crisis in decades, and pose a challenge to the central government in Beijing.

Chants of "Liberate Hong Kong" had earlier echoed through the streets when more than a thousand black-shirted protesters marched, some with their pets, amid a carnival atmosphere.

"We have lived in Hong Kong all our lives and this is the hardest time because the government is not listening to the citizens," said a 63-year-old man surnamed Leung, who was accompanied by his 93-year-old father in a wheelchair.

"All citizens need to stay together. We will always support the children." Residents, some cheering, came outside to see them march past. Drivers honked their horns and leaned out of car windows, giving the protesters a thumbs up.

Police have shown a growing willingness to quickly clear protesters from the streets - also firing tear gas on Saturday evening - while China has begun applying pressure to the city's corporate giants, including flag carrier Cathay Pacific.

'NOW OR NEVER'

On Sunday, protesters had gathered outside Sham Shui Po police station when the police began firing tear gas, but the activists stood their ground.

The protest movement, which began in response to a now-suspended law that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to stand trial in mainland China, still seems to enjoy broad support.

Thousands of activists also occupied the airport arrivals hall for a third day, while others turned out earlier at a downtown park.

Their demands have grown to include greater democracy and the resignation of the city's leader, Carrie Lam.

"At the beginning, in June, I didn't take it very seriously," said Jason Liu, a 29-year-old arborist who joined a protest in Victoria Park near the city center.

"But after these two months I really feel it is now or never for us, because in 20 years we won't be able to do anything anymore," he said. "Our main target is obviously the government. They didn't respond to any of our requests."

TOUGHENING STANCE

Hong Kong was guaranteed freedoms not granted in mainland China, including an independent judiciary, under a "one country, two systems" formula, when Britain handed it back to China in 1997.

Hong Kong's government has said the protests were pushing the city to an extremely dangerous edge, while China has said the city faces its biggest crisis since the handover.

Police made 16 arrests on Saturday, when tear gas was used with little warning to disperse crowds. Authorities have arrested more than 600 people since the rallies began in June.

Beijing also opened a new front on Friday by demanding that the city's flagship carrier, corporate giant Cathay Pacific Airways (HK:0293), suspend staff involved in the demonstrations, with the airline later mostly agreeing to do so.

China has shown strong support for the city's police force with state news agency Xinhua reporting Sunday that 245 representatives from Hong Kong Federation of Fujian Associations met in the North Point area to show their support for police.

It has seemingly done little to weaken protesters' resolve or to erode their support among ordinary Hong Kongers.

"I don't care if it's legal or illegal," said university student Polly, 18 at Sham Shui Po. "We have so many people on our side."

'SOME OF US WILL NEVER BACK DOWN'

Young people have been at the forefront, worried about the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong, while also concerned with issues such as wealth disparities in the city.

Residents of all ages joined in protests on Sunday.

"The most frustrating thing is that we didn't ask for more, we only asked to keep what we had," said one man, 49, who gave his name as Jeremy and said he worked in the insurance industry.

"I don't know what's going to happen next, when school starts, or when Christmas comes but they need to know that some of us will never back down and this is how we raise our children as well."

Hong Kong police fire tear gas at protesters as confrontation looms
 

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Comments (8)
ch hon
ch hon Aug 11, 2019 11:53AM ET
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NED is funding the riots related bodies in Hong Kong, which is public information, just like the umbrella revolution a few years ago.
Paul Manefee
Paul Manefee Aug 11, 2019 9:50AM ET
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Chinese have been ripping off Africa’s natural resources for years, when Ebola epidemic breaks , they pull their citizens out and Western doctors and volunteers go in risking their own lives, China is not playing fear, it’s time that they need to start playing fear, not only in Africa but also in Hong Kong, free the people there and stop the oppression
Paul Manefee
Paul Manefee Aug 11, 2019 9:50AM ET
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Fair
Paul Manefee
Paul Manefee Aug 11, 2019 9:45AM ET
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David, Dictator Xi is asking his people to obey and bear the economic burden to pump up his own wallet and solidify his power. Xi and Wang are hypocrites and have already created off shore accounts in his family members names to stack away the wealth the Chinese people has created for them, it’s always been the playbook of the Chinese ruling power for 5000years they don’t tell that internally of course to their people, you’ve been brain washed
Paul Manefee
Paul Manefee Aug 11, 2019 9:43AM ET
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Jason Zou  The real faceless rat is Dictator Xi, who doesn't give account to the oppressed people of China with free elections.  The Chicoms are against freedom, both social and economic.  The HK protesters have all the reason to be concerned, they are fighting tyrants and hypocrites from the mainland.
Jason Zou
Jason Zou Aug 11, 2019 4:24AM ET
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These faceless rioters are wirepulled for anti-China agenda in the name of freedom at the expense of law, order and prosperity of HK. However, it turns out to serves as an immunization shot for HKers, as what happened in Beijing 30 years ago for mainland Chinese. Those wirepullers were, are and wiil be losers, since they are always for their own gains over others pains.
David Bowie
Defcon2 Aug 11, 2019 4:24AM ET
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Jason Zou  The real faceless rat is Dictator Xi, who doesn't give account to the oppressed people of China with free elections.  The Chicoms are against freedom, both social and economic.  The HK protesters have all the reason to be concerned, they are fighting tyrants and hypocrites from the mainland.
Lloyd McCord
Lloyd McCord Aug 11, 2019 3:47AM ET
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You tried it. It didn't work. Hongkongers don't want to be Chinese. Too many generations of British culture and logic have left them extremely unhappy with the oppressive occupation of the CCP. It's time to return liberty to the good people of Hong Kong. They're never going to be happy without freedom. It's similar to building fake islands in the national waters of other nations. Not every idea is a good one. Wise men would let go. Do the right thing China. God speed Hong Kong!
David David
David9 Aug 11, 2019 1:12AM ET
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Yes, this will.come to an end soon. Thise small group of troublemakers will get locked up. This riot is pretty clear that an outside force supported them. I read alternative news and it was so clear external force were behind this.
simon meso
simon meso Aug 11, 2019 1:12AM ET
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alway the same story. in slovakia same - criminal government declared protesters payed agents payed by mr. soros. there may be litle influence as always is. but core of problem lays on disatisfacion with local govt and actions they take. dont make us fool. china will use army in hk soon. but in long term it will weaken china.
David Bowie
Defcon2 Aug 11, 2019 1:12AM ET
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David Wong  Alternative news?  You mean Chicom news.  Everyone knows that China is an oppressive government, starting with Dictator Xi.  Hong Kong has freedom, has unlimited sources of information, has real free speech, unlike mainland China.  Go eat rats like the rest of the oppressed people in commie workers' paradise.
DOUG DANYLUK
CLASSIC1 Aug 11, 2019 1:12AM ET
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Hi David Wrong - David, I find it interesting the tact you take in trying to dismiss the real concerns of the Majority of Hong Kong citizens by blaming their distress on 'outsiders'. Your point would be well taken if you indicated the 'outsiders' you reference reside in Beijing. . David - the conversation becomes much more relevant if you could address the real concerns of Hong Kong in light of a real history of continued oppression of individual rights of your countrymen by your government. China will one day too raise its face to the promise of freedom of speech, press and democracy. That is the natural resolution to oppression. You may wish to consider which side of history you find yourself.
Jason Zou
Jason Zou Aug 10, 2019 11:59PM ET
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This riot is now winding down for sure, as more and more peoples in HK get annoyed by the violences and foreign manipulations.
David Bowie
Defcon2 Aug 10, 2019 11:59PM ET
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There is no foreign manipulation going on. The reality is the people know all about Chinese lack of justice, and their horrendous treatment of their people. Dictator Xi and the Chicoms are tyrannical and the worst of the worst.
Peng Leqiao
Peng Leqiao Aug 10, 2019 11:59PM ET
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CIA paid jobless Hongkonger for the violence. Sooner or later, China will ban the CIA or US agency completely.
DOUG DANYLUK
CLASSIC1 Aug 10, 2019 11:59PM ET
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Peng Leqiao  - are you serious? Or is this a children's story you are writing. These are serious issues involving real lives. Is this the best you can offer??
 
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