Hong Kong protesters, police clash as cities worldwide prepare for rallies ahead of China's National Day
'Anti-totalitarianism' rallies expected in over 60 cities Sunday
Protesters and police on Sunday clashed in Hong Kong for a second straight day, throwing the business and shopping belt into chaos and sparking fears of more ugly scenes leading up to China's National Day next week.
It was a repeat of Saturday's clashes and part of a familiar cycle since pro-democracy protests began in early June. The protests were sparked by a now-shelved extradition bill and have since snowballed into an anti-China movement.
On Sunday, police fired water cannons, rubber bullets, and tear gas at petrol-bomb and brick-throwing protesters in some of the most widespread violence in more than three months of anti-government unrest.
Running battles in the Causeway Bay shopping district, Wan Chai bar area and the Admiralty district of central government offices followed a night of showdowns with police in the Chinese-ruled special administrative region after a peaceful pro-democracy rally turned ugly on the streets outside. Police also fired tear gas from the roof of the Legislative Council building, which activists trashed and daubed with graffiti weeks ago.
Watch as CBC's Saša Petricic reports from Hong Kong:
Protesters, many of them wearing their trademark black with face masks, took cover from the tear gas behind umbrellas and held their ground on Sunday, some throwing tear gas canisters back at police as a helicopter flew overhead. They built barricades with trolleys and trash cans and other debris. One threw a petrol bomb at police in the Wan Chai metro
At least one petrol bomb landed in the grounds of central government offices where several windows were smashed.
Police, who traditionally raise placards warning of retaliation before firing tear gas or firing water cannon, made several arrests, grappling people to the tarmac. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.
"We know that in the face of the world's largest totalitarian regime — to quote Captain America, 'Whatever it takes,"' Justin Leung, a 21-year-old protester who covered his mouth with a black scarf, said of the methods deployed by radicals. "The consensus right now is that everyone's methods are valid and we all do our part."
Sunday's gathering is part of global "anti-totalitarianism" rallies planned in over 60 cities worldwide to denounce "Chinese tyranny."
In Sydney, more than a thousand people rallied in support of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, yelling "Fight for freedom" and "Stand with Hong Kong."
Protests began in June
On Saturday, police fired tear gas and water cannons after protesters threw bricks and firebombs at government buildings following a massive rally in downtown Hong Kong. The clashes were part of a familiar cycle since protests began in June over a now-shelved extradition bill and have since snowballed into an anti-China movement.
Protesters are also planning to march on Tuesday despite a police ban, raising fears of more ugly scenes that could embarrass Chinese President Xi Jinping as his ruling Communist Party marks the 70th anniversary.
Many said they will wear black as a symbol of mourning in a direct challenge to the authority of the Communist Party, with posters calling for Oct. 1 to be marked as "A Day of Grief."
Hong Kong's government has already scaled down National Day celebrations in the city, cancelling an annual fireworks display and moving a reception indoors.
Despite security concerns, Hong Kong's government said Sunday that Chief Executive Carrie Lam will lead a delegation of over 240 people to Beijing on Monday to participate in the festivities. She will be represented by Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung in her absence and return to the city on Tuesday evening.
Lam held her first community dialogue with the public on Thursday in a bid to defuse tensions but failed to persuade protesters, who vowed to press on until their demands are met, including direct elections for the city's leader and police accountability.
China accuses world powers of stoking unrest
Earlier Sunday, hundreds of pro-Beijing supporters sang the Chinese national anthem and Happy Birthday in a counter show of solidarity for Chinese rule. Wearing red and carrying Chinese flags and posters, they chanted, "I am a citizen of China" at a waterfront cultural centre. They were later bused to the Victoria Peak hilltop for the same repertoire.
Organizer Innes Tang said the crowd, all Hong Kong citizens, responded to his invitation on social media to "promote positivity and patriotism" and urged protesters to replace violence with dialogue.
"We want to take this time for the people to express our love for our country China. We want to show the international community that there is another voice to Hong Kong" apart from the protests, he said.
Mobs of pro-Beijing supporters have appeared in malls and on the streets in recent weeks to counter pro-democracy protesters, leading to brawls between the rival camps.
Many people view the extradition bill, which would have sent criminal suspects to mainland China for trial, as a glaring example of the erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy under the "one country, two systems" policy put in place when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
China has denied chipping away at Hong Kong's freedoms and accused the U.S. and other foreign powers of fomenting the unrest to weaken its dominance.
In Beijing on Sunday, former Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa was recognized for devoting himself to the implementation of the "one-country, two-systems" policy. Tung, the first leader after Hong Kong's return to China, was among 42 people who received national medals and honours from Xi for their contributions to the country.
The U.K.'s foreign minister, Dominic Raab, said the country won't ignore the treatment of protesters in Hong Kong.
"We won't look the other way, when the people of Hong Kong are beaten indiscriminately on commuter trains for exercising the right to peaceful protest," Raab told the governing Conservative Party's annual conference in Manchester, England.
With files from Reuters