July 01, 2019

Legislative Council Issues Red Security Alert: Hong Kong Update
(Bloomberg) -- Tension returned to Hong Kong’s streets Monday as protesters broke windows around the city’s legislature, attempting to gain access, while thousands more marched peacefully in opposition to the Asian financial hub’s China-backed government.The clashes outside the Legislative Council, in which a group of largely mask-wearing demonstrators used metal carts and other objects to smash glass with police clustered inside, came as the former British colony marked the anniversary of its return in 1997 to Chinese rule. Earlier, the city’s embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam pledged to be more open and inclusive after she started her third year in office facing a historic crisis.Here are the latest developments (all times local):Main Protest March Ongoing (8:20 p.m.)The thousands-strong march was still ongoing in the evening, through the Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and Admiralty areas in the heart of the city. Major roads were closed and packed with protesters holding up their phones to create a sea of light, and police maintained a minimal presence. A volunteer with the opposition pan-Democrats said the marchers could be expected to disperse peacefully at midnight, when the gathering’s police permit expired. Government Condemns ‘Violent Acts’ (6:57 p.m.)The Hong Kong government said in a statement it “strongly condemns and deeply regrets the extremely violent acts committed by some protesters” who breached entrances to the legislative complex Monday. “The police will take appropriate enforcement action to protect public order and safety,” the government said.Red Security Alert (6:26 p.m.)Hong Kong’s Legislative Council issued a red security alert, local Now TV reported, as protesters wearing hard hats crowded outside, some pulling metal slats off the building’s gate. “Yes, there is violence. But we’re forced to do so. Are we just going to lie down and let them beat us up?” said Kate Leung, 41, a high school English teacher who was peacefully marching with crowds in the adjacent Wan Chai area.Protesters Breach Entrance Way (5:30 p.m.)After a long standoff with police near one Legislative Council entrance, some protesters began probing other sides of the building, eventually breaking through the main public entrance way. Several people wearing helmets and protective vests, including numerous journalists, entered through the broken panels. Metal gates and riot police still stood between the protesters and the building’s interior.Smaller Crowds (4:45 p.m.)While neither organizers nor police had released crowd estimates as 4:45 p.m., the annual July 1 march marking Hong Kong’s return to China appeared smaller than the historic demonstrations seen at the height of the extradition bill uproar last month. There had been no reports of train stations backing up or crowds spilling out of designated protest routes, as happened last month when hundreds of thousands of people turned out. The annual Civil Human Rights Front event, which has drawn as many as 400,000 people in past years, will test whether activists can keep up the momentum.Crowds Grow at Legislature (4:20 p.m.)The crowds outside the Legislative Council swelled into the thousands marching from Victoria Park passed through the surrounding Admiralty area. Many participants broke off from the larger demonstration by upscale Pacific Place mall, making their way toward the legislature. On the main route, shouts of “Carrie Lam step down” and “Hong Kong people add oil” wafted throughout the long stream of marchers.March Arrives Downtown (4:02 p.m.)Thousands of protesters began arriving down after a slow march through Causeway Bay. As they walked, opposition Democratic Party gave out stickers calling for Lam to step down and some pro-democracy groups appealed to the crowds for donations they would use to campaign for the opposition in district council elections this fall. Some protesters carried babies and pushed the elderly in wheelchairs. Prominent activist Joshua Wong led chants: “Hongkongers add oil! Withdraw evil law! Carrie Lam step down!”Pauline Wong, a 49-year-old NGO worker, marched with her husband. Like thousands of others, they were undeterred by events at the legislature. “It is obvious there are two streams of protesters,” she said. “One is trying to put things in action, but we will remain peaceful.”Hong Kong police warned of a “serious” safety threat in Admiralty and Wan Chai and advised members of the public to exercise caution in deciding whether to join the march.Patten Speaks (3:50 p.m.)Chris Patten, the last colonial governor of Hong Kong, told BBC Radio 4 that the violent approach being used by demonstrators at the Legislative Council was “ill-advised.”“I think that’s very very unwise, it plays into the hands of the hardliners, and it’s possible that it will detract from another peaceful march this afternoon which is a serious expression of Hong Kong’s concerns,” he said. Still, he said the government may have lowered tensions by engaging critics: “If you never actually have a dialog with people, then inevitably it helps to legitimize those do things in a more violent way.”Uneasy Standoff (3:20 p.m.)Protesters hadn’t pushed forward into the legislature after smashing down a glass door with a loaded metal cart, as police in riot gear clustered just inside. A few kilometers away, Felix Tam, 40, who works in sales, joined crowds numbering in the tens of thousands in marching from Victoria Park with his wife and his 6-year-old son. He said clashes at the legislature and earlier in the day hadn’t deterred him from marching.“It’s a long term thing. If we give in today, the government will not listen to Hong Kong people in the future. It’s not even 25 years and our Hong Kong is already a changed Hong Kong,” he said, referencing the length of Chinese control over the city.Protesters Breach Door (3:05 p.m.)Protesters outside the Legislative Council complex ceased charging after breaching a glass door leading into the building. Police in riot gear clustered inside holding a sign warning demonstrators stop charging or they would use force, with broadcaster Now TV reporting that some police had donned gas masks.March Starts (2:55 p.m.)A large march called by protest organizer the Civil Human Rights Front began, with protesters beginning their procession from centrally located Victoria Park toward the more violent demonstrations downtown. CHRF said its march would now end in the Central neighborhood, after the previous end point of Admiralty was deemed unsafe.Ready to March (2:27 p.m.)Hong Kong Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung said the Admiralty area -- where previous demonstrations this month have concluded -- might not be safe enough to be the end point of this afternoon’s march. Hundreds of people waited on Victoria Park’s lawn, after getting the go-ahead from CHRF. Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong, alongside other opposition legislators, attempted to persuade protesters not to storm the Legislative Council, the South China Morning Post reported. The CHRF led crowds in chanting “We have the right to protest! We don’t need police permission!”Protesters Ram Glass (2:19 p.m.)Protesters tried to break into Hong Kong’s legislature, banging into its glass walls with a metal cart as police clustered inside, as a new round of demonstrations in the city center threatened to turn violent. The standoff came as thousands of people gathered in nearby Victoria Park for a larger planned march to be led by the Civil Human Rights Front -- the group that twice last month turned out historic crowds demanding Lam’s resignation.Lam Promises Changes (8 a.m.)Earlier in the morning, Lam made her first public appearance in more than a week, speaking at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return. “What happened in recent months has caused dilemmas and divides between the government and citizens,” Lam said. “It has made me understand that as a politician, I must remind myself I have to accurately get the pulse of the society. I have learned that even with good intentions, I have to be open and inclusive.”Protesters, Police Clash (4 a.m.)Riot police used pepper spray and batons to push back protesters who tried to disrupt the annual flag-wearing -- some wearing helmets and surgical masks to disguise their appearance -- at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center in Wan Chai.\--With assistance from Sophie Kamaruddin and Stuart Biggs.To contact the reporters on this story: Natalie Lung in Hong Kong at flung6@bloomberg.net;Kari Lindberg in Hong Kong at klindberg13@bloomberg.net;Fion Li in Hong Kong at fli59@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Karen LeighFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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