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Date TimeAugust 31, 2019
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Tear Gas, Petrol Bombs and Barricade Bonfires: Hong Kong Update
(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong police fired tear gas, sprayed blue dye from water cannons and baton-charged demonstrators who had lobbed petrol bombs and built bonfires in one of the city’s most violent days in its 13th weekend of social unrest.Tens of thousands joined an unauthorized march following the arrest of several top opposition figures this week including Joshua Wong. The demonstrations began in June over a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China before morphing into a wider push against Beijing’s grip on the city. Wong and a fellow activist were later released on bail.Embattled leader Carrie Lam this week called for talks with the opposition while refusing to rule out invoking a sweeping colonial-era law that allows for easier arrests, deportations, censorship and property seizures. The unrest in the Asian financial hub threatens to distract from China’s celebrations of the Oct. 1 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule.Key Developments:Police fire tear gas and water cannons, and baton-charge protesters in an unauthorized march; demonstrators set fires to barricades and hurl firebombs and bricks at officers.One of the discussion forums used by protesters to organize demonstrations suffers an “unprecedented, large-scale DDoS attack.”Police said they had arrested at least 20 people in connection with illegal demonstrations since Thursday. The Chinese central government earlier this summer dismissed a proposal by Chief Executive Lam to withdraw the controversial extradition bill, and ordered her not to yield to protesters’ demands, Reuters reported.Here’s the latest (all times local):Clashes continue into the night (8.30 p.m.)Police baton-charged protesters and drove them off the streets with water canons as clashes continued into the night. The retreating protesters seemed to disperse only to reappear in a nearby suburb. In some clashes police were outnumbered and were forced back, with protesters hurling firebombs and other objects. Police did manage to arrest some people and loaded them into vans.Barricade bonfire (7.20 p.m.)Protesters used police barricades, and stands and fencing from a nearby park to build a huge blaze in the middle of a road in Wan Chai in the city center. Plumes of smoke filled the air as fire engines battled for access to the blaze.Police said protesters also attacked government buildings with petrol bombs.“Violent protesters continue to throw corrosives and petrol bombs on Central Government Complex, Legislative Council Complex and Police Headquarters,” police said in a statement. “Such acts pose a serious threat to everyone at the scene and breach public peace.”Blue dye fired (6 p.m.)Police sprayed what appeared to be dye at protesters outside the Legislative Council offices, leaving the streets washed in blue. A water cannon was deployed earlier to drive away the demonstrators.antiELAB protesters outside Hong Kong's Legislative Council officesHongKongProtests 香港 More @business: https://t.co/MmE4GkqhtD pic.twitter.com/9ZnKPDCTUA— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) August 31, 2019 Tear gas fired, helicopter hovers (4 p.m.)Police fired tear gas at demonstrators outside the Legislative Council offices in Admiralty after people lobbed eggs and surrounded the building, which was barricaded. Earlier, protesters urged one another to cover their heads with umbrellas to avoid being identified as a Government Flying Service helicopter hovered over the marchers.Rex Lau, a 31-year-old lecturer, said he and others were risking everything by marching to maintain their rights as Hong Kong citizens.“Some of the people are scared of the emergency law and the arrests, and people think they might get fired for speaking out,” he said, wearing a mask and holding a black umbrella as he walked down a closed-off road in a chanting crowd of thousands.“But today, I thought if I stayed at home and didn’t come out that we would lose our rights,” he said. “If we keep silent, the government may think everything’s okay and that we have no comment about the extradition bill, about ‘one country, two systems,’ and about our elections.”Marchers defy ban (2.30 p.m.)Tens of thousands of protesters marched peacefully through the streets of business and shopping districts on Hong Kong island despite a police ban. The procession wound its way through the Central neighborhood and headed to the western part of the island where the China Liaison Office is located.Yeung Sum, former chairman of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong, who joined the march, said the latest arrests would not stifle protesters’ voices.“I think the high-profile arrests are a kind of intimidating tactic adopted by the government, so that people would get fearful and not express their views. But I don’t think Hong Kong people will be intimidated,” he said.“If the government wants to stabilize society, they should give some positive response to demands made by the protesters -- like Ms. Carrie Lam should resign and set up independent commission to look into the issues. And I think that would be very helpful,” Yeung said.Roads blocked near China Liaison Office (11:45 a.m.)Roads near China’s liaison office in the neighborhood of Sai Ying Pun were blocked with barricades and no vehicles were allowed through, causing traffic jams. The nearest subway station will be closed from 1:30 pm, according to mass transit operator MTR Corp., saying it was a “prudent measure” because of public activities likely to be taking place this afternoon.Sai Ying Pun is where some of the most violent confrontations between anti-government protesters and riot police have occurred. A previous demonstration saw protesters deface the China’s national emblem outside the liaison office.Forum’s server attack (11 a.m.)The LIHKG discussion forum, one of the digital tools that protesters use to organize demonstrations, said its servers experienced an “unprecedented, large-scale DDoS attack” on Saturday morning. Service for its app users returned to normal, the company said in a Twitter post at around 11 a.m.Hong Kong appeared to be at the center of a large digital attack in recent days, according to DDOS tracker Digital Attack Map.Ant that “tries to rock a tree” (8 a.m.)Hong Kong protesters’ use of violence can’t force China’s government into making concessions, according to an editorial in the People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship mouthpiece.“If anyone thinks that by escalating violence, he can force the central government to make concessions on matters of principle, it is like an ant that goes beyond its ability and tries to rock a tree,” according to the paper. “If there is unrest in Hong Kong that the SAR government cannot control, the central government will not sit idly by. According to the basic law, the central government has enough means and enough power to quickly quell any possible unrest.”Some protesters argue that Chief Executive Lam was the one who signaled that radical actions would be more effective, by making her most significant concession — suspending the extradition bill — after a violent attempt to storm the city’s legislature on June 12. She had days earlier refused to make such a compromise after more than 1 million people marched peacefully against the bill.U.S. Trade Talks Impact (Saturday, 6.09 a.m.)President Donald Trump said China has tempered its response to protests in Hong Kong as a result of U.S. trade talks. There might have been more violence were it not for the discussions, and China knows that would be bad for a deal, he said.Trade talks are “keeping down the temperature” in Hong Kong, Trump said to reporters at the White House.White House Objects to Denial of Free Speech (11:58 p.m.)The Trump administration opposes attempts to deny residents of Hong Kong their rights to free speech and assembly, an administration official said.The official described arbitrary arrests of political opposition figures as a tactic employed by authoritarian regimes. Hong Kong’s use of the tactic, the official said, is concerning because the territory has long respected the rule of law.More Arrests (11:22 p.m.)Police have arrested opposition lawmaker Au Nok-hin for allegedly obstructing an officer, the Apple Daily reported, citing Au’s office. Alvin Yeung, a pro-democracy lawmaker who heads the city’s Civic Party, said on his Facebook page that colleague Jeremy Tam had also been detained. In other developments:Now TV said Lam had canceled a September trip to the U.S. given tensions at home.Police banned a rally called for Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui district on Monday and Tuesday, citing public safety concerns, an organizer said.Wong Vows to Fight (6:01 p.m.)After being released on bail, Wong and Agnes Chow, another democracy activist who was arrested, vowed to continue the fight for democracy. He also warned Chinese President Xi Jinping about using force to quash the protests.“I urge the international community to send a message to President Xi, sending troops or using emergency ordinance is not the way out,” he said.Wong, Chow Granted Bail: Ming Pao (5:05 p.m.)Wong and Agnes Chow, another democracy activist, were granted bail, Ming Pao newspaper reported, citing the presiding judge. Their hearing has been adjourned until Nov. 8.China Rejected Lam’s Concession: Reuters (2:23 p.m.)The Chinese central government earlier this summer dismissed a proposal by Chief Executive Lam to withdraw the controversial extradition bill, Reuters reported on Friday. Beijing ordered Lam not to yield to any of the protesters’ other demands at that time, the report said, citing three unidentified people with direct knowledge of the matter.Upcoming ScheduleProtesters plan to disrupt transport to the city’s airport from 1 p.m. on Sunday followed by a 2 p.m. demonstration outside the British consulate.\--With assistance from Natalie Lung, Annie Lee, Justin Chin and Fion Li.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Karen Leigh in Hong Kong at kleigh4@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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