August 18, 2019

Tens of Thousands Mass in Park for Rainy Rally: Hong Kong Update
(Bloomberg) -- Tens of thousands of Hong Kong protesters defied a torrential downpour as they gathered in the centrally located Victoria Park for the weekend’s major rally, after two nights of demonstrations ended peacefully and without police firing tear gas.Sunday’s rally was organized by the Civil Human Rights Front, which has drawn some of the biggest crowds in about three months of protests, and was confined to the park after police denied a request for a march from the site. The demonstrations that started in early June against a bill that would allow extraditions to the mainland have since morphed into a broader criticism of China’s rule over the financial hub.Thousands of pro- and anti-government supporters came out on Saturday in rival demonstrations that expressed support for Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s administration on one side, and criticized her and police actions in another. China urged Hong Kong to punish demonstrators who break the law, after they massed at the city’s international airport and forced its closure last week.There is a growing list of demands made by various groups and directed at the government to address. One rally on Saturday called for curbs on visitors from China, while a planned gathering that was later canceled wanted to highlight the impact of tear gas used by police on animals.Here’s the latest (all times local):Rain, what rain? (Sunday 4 p.m.)Protesters in Victoria Park ignored the driving rain and dark skies as they took cover in a multicolored shield of umbrellas. People exited the venue and made their way toward the train station in line with organizers’ requests to make space for throngs waiting to get into the rally.Economic Typhoon Signal 3 raised (Sunday)Hong Kong should brace for an “economic typhoon” because of social unrest and the U.S.-China trade war, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in a blog post Sunday. He likened current economic conditions to a Signal 3 cyclone warning and said that the city could suffer a direct hit.Park rally (Sunday 1.30 p.m.)People poured into Victoria Park in Causeway Bay in orderly queues snaking around the site hours before the rally was scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Organizers said they would try to ensure the gathering went off peacefully and that the park wasn’t overcrowded.“We will be totally peaceful today but it depends on how the police react,” said Bonnie Leung, a vice convener of the Civil Human Rights Front. “Police have imposed a lot of unnecessary conditions, so we don’t have a march but we have a large number of people which cannot be contained in this Victoria Park. Our legislators will lead the crowd to hopefully peacefully leave the park so that more people can come inside.”‘Return to Reason’ (Sunday 11 a.m.)Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung said violence must stop immediately to solve problems facing the city. While protesters say their “extreme actions” are to strive for a better future, the situation needs to “return to reason” before steps that can be taken to achieve that, he said.“Destruction is easy and construction is difficult,” Cheung said in a blog post on Sunday. Violent acts during protests “have seriously affected and damaged the lives of the people, disrupted social order, impacted the rule of law in Hong Kong and the moral bottom line, and hit Hong Kong’s international image.”An Early Night (Saturday 8 p.m)Protesters dispersed after some clashes with police, and the day ended without the use of tear gas for the first time in weeks.Eggs and laser beams (Saturday 7 p.m.)Hong Kong police said a “large group of protesters” who surrounded its station in Mong Kok posed a threat to its officers at the scene. Some demonstrators were seen aiming laser beams at the police officers, and pelting eggs at the station.Police in riot gear cleared the area around the station of protesters.Pro-China rally (Saturday 5 p.m.)Tens of thousands joined a pro-government rally in Tamar Park, Admiralty, filling the space adjacent to the central government offices. “Support the motherland, support one country two systems; anti-violence, save Hong Kong,” they chanted. Organizers estimated the crowd size at 476,000, while the police said it was around 108,000, broadcasters reported.China calls for punishment (Saturday 4.30 p.m.)Protesters who have broken laws must be punished accordingly, You Wenze, spokesman for China’s National People’s Congress Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview with state TV Saturday. Some protesters have challenged the one-China principle, You said.“There’s no majesty in laws if breaking laws can go unpunished,” said You, whose committee is a panel of China’s legislature that crafted the Basic Law of Hong Kong -- its mini constitution.Pro-China crowd in Sydney (Saturday 2:30 p.m.)Demonstrations are taking place in hubs across the world this weekend, including San Francisco’s Embarcadero Plaza to London’s Trafalgar Square and cities in Canada, Australia, Germany and Taiwan.In Sydney, hundreds of China supporters draped in the red national flag protested against “selfish” Hong Kong demonstrators. They marched down Sydney’s George Street in the central business district, chanting “One China” and “We support Hong Kong police.”“We support Hong Kong, this is why we are here,” said Jonah Zhu, who hails from the Chinese city of Guangzhou and is studying teaching in Sydney. Protesters “are destroying the Hong Kong economy, they’re trying to block the airport, they are being selfish.”Kowloon rally (Saturday 3.30 p.m.)Thousands set off from a park in west Kowloon, extended the list of demands to include a call for a limit to the number of tourists from mainland China.“Although we do not forget the five demands of the Hong Kong people themselves, the main demand of this rally would be to set a capped number on mainland Chinese tourists,” said Timothy Lee, a community officer in Kowloon who organized the march. “We call upon the police to remain restrained and calm at all times.”Teachers on the streets (Saturday 11.30 a.m.)Thousands of teachers gathered in Chater Garden in pelting rain and an amber rainstorm warning from Hong Kong Observatory. The educators marched to Government House, Lam’s official residence, as the weather cleared. They tied white ribbons to the railings around the residence and then moved on to make way for arriving protesters.At least 22,000 people took part in the demonstration, Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union president Fung Wai-wah said, while police estimated that there were 8,300 protesters in the march at its peak.March granted permission (Friday 11 p.m.)A march in west Kowloon was granted approval by the Appeal Board after organizers changed the planned route. The earlier course was denied permission by police on grounds of public-safety concerns.Protesters Gather in Central District (Friday 9:59 p.m.)Hundreds of protesters gathered in centrally located Chater Garden, the site of previous peaceful gatherings by civil servants and finance professionals. Protesters called on the U.S. and the U.K. to support their cause.Cathay Pacific CEO Resigns (Friday 5:08 p.m.)Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.’s Chief Executive Officer Rupert Hogg stepped down to take responsibility after the airline got caught in the middle of the protests.Hong Kong’s flag carrier is the most visible corporate victim of the demonstrations: After its staff took part in protests and strikes, China levied a raft of curbs on the airline, which increasingly relies on mainland passengers. Its Board of Directors “believes that it is the right time for new leadership to take Cathay Pacific forward,” the statement said. Augustus Tang, 60, replaced Hogg.\--With assistance from Justin Chin, Natalie Lung, Sybilla Gross and Jinshan Hong.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Karen Leigh in Hong Kong at kleigh4@bloomberg.net;Shawna Kwan in Hong Kong at wkwan35@bloomberg.net;Aaron Mc Nicholas in Hong Kong at amcnicholas2@bloomberg.net;Jinshan Hong in Hong Kong at jhong214@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, ;Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Stanley JamesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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