Tens of thousands of people have again rallied in Hong Kong, in their latest effort to grow their protest movement against what they see as mainland China‘s growing influence on the semiautonomous territory.
Demonstrators on Sunday marched in Sha Tin, a suburban area near the border that is popular with mainland Chinese shoppers, as the rallies move outwards from the heart of the financial centre into surrounding neighbourhoods.
“[They are] speaking out against what they call creeping authoritarianism, threats to the way of life in Hong Kong.”
There were clashes between police and some protesters, with riot police using pepper spray and batons against small crowds who took over a road on the sidelines of the rally. Masked protesters responded by building barricades from metal fencing and a stand-off with riot police ensued.
Hong Kong has been hit by a wave of popular protests since early June following widespread anger over a controversial piece of legislation that would have allowed extraditions to the mainland. Although the Hong Kong government later suspended the bill, it has refused to officially retract it.
Opponents insist they will settle for nothing short of its formal withdrawal and have called for the resignation of Carrie Lam, the territory’s chief executive. Others have also staged protests over other grievances, including what they see as moves by the pro-Beijing government to erode Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy.
The youth-led protests have fuelled the former British colony’s biggest political crisis since China regained control of Hong Kong in 1997 and pose a direct challenge to authorities in Beijin
Many protesters see the rallies as part of an existential fight against an increasingly assertive Beijing.
“This is a dangerous moment. Hong Kongers can choose to die or they can live. We’re on the edge but fortunately we haven’t died off yet,” said JoJo So, a woman in her fifties who was attending the rally.
A few protesters waved British and United States flags, with banners calling for independence for Hong Kong flying from makeshift flagpoles. Some marchers beat drums and others carried banners that read, “Free Hong Kong.”
Chants of “Carrie Lam go to hell”, rang through the crowd, referring to the city’s embattled leader.(AL JAZEERA)