September 29, 2019

Clashes Intensify With Petrol Bombs and Fires: Hong Kong Update
(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong police used a water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas on protesters who set a train station entrance on fire and hurled petrol bombs as they tried to march on the government offices in the city center.Demonstrators marched without permission on Sunday after an approved rally the day before. Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Thursday took responsibility for the “entire unrest” that has rocked the city since June in a bid to calm tensions. Even largely peaceful gatherings have descended into chaos in recent weeks as smaller groups of hard-core protesters battled with police.Key Developments:Protesters and police clashed in one of the most violent days in about 17 weeks of unrestTens of thousands gathered for a rally to mark the fifth anniversary of the pro-democracy Occupy movementThe government said it will “take forward constitutional development” in response to demands for political reform and implementing universal suffrageJoshua Wong, a prominent leader of the Occupy Movement, announced that he’ll run in the city’s district council elections in NovemberHere’s the latest (all times local):Stations closed (6:30 p.m.)MTR Corp., operator of the city’s rail network, said Wan Chai, Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Tin Hau stations were closed because of public activities. Train services in Tsuen Wan, Island and South Island lines have also been adjusted, it said.Fires started (6 p.m.)An entrance to Wan Chai train station was ablaze and fires were started in other areas as the main march was dispersed by police who fired repeated rounds of rubber bullets and tear gas. Emergency workers were treating a number of injured people in the streets, with at least one laying unconscious.Water cannon, arrests (5 p.m.)Police used a water cannon to spray a blue-dyed liquid at protesters and made numerous arrests, as activists set up barricades across Gloucester Road, a major traffic artery through the city.March goes on (4:30 p.m.)Protesters pushed ahead with their march as police blocked roads and fired repeated rounds of tear gas. The Wan Chai train station, closed because of the demonstrations, was vandalized by a small group. Fire alarms rang out and explosions could be heard after activists set objects alight and smashed glass panes.Police fire tear gas (2:20 p.m.)Riot police fired multiple rounds of tear gas at demonstrators in Causeway Bay after standoffs and clashes, as a helicopter hovered overhead. The protesters were due to march to the government offices in Admiralty, without applying for permission.At least two people were arrested. The weekend’s protests come as China prepares to celebrate 70 years of Communist Party rule on Oct. 1.Pro-China rally (11:15 a.m.)Hundreds of demonstrators waved China flags and shouted pro-Beijing slogans as they rallied on the waterfront in the shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui.Across the harbor on Hong Kong island, some businesses and malls shut and others said they would close early in anticipation of a march planned for later in the day.Sogo said its store in Causeway Bay wouldn’t open Sunday out of concern for the safety of customers and staff. In the same district, the World Trade Centre was closed and Hysan Place posted a notice saying it would shut down at 1 p.m.‘Rubbish rhetoric’ (Sunday 11 a.m.)Claudia Mo, a lawmaker who has been active in the protest movement, dismissed the government’s statement that it wants to move toward introducing universal suffrage.“This is just one of the many, many propaganda tricks by the government of Carrie Lam. They pretend that they’re taking a step towards universal suffrage but they aren’t,” she said. “It’s just rubbish rhetoric.”There can’t be real freedom in Hong Kong politics because Beijing has the right to screen out any candidates it dislikes, Mo said.Stop and search operations (10:30 p.m.)Police conducted stop-and-search operations at various places across the city, challenging people on foot and on public transportation. Police stopped buses entering the Cross Harbour Tunnel and also carried out searches in Causeway Bay and Wan Chai, where passengers were forced off buses to be checked.Government responds (9 p.m.)The government said that universal suffrage for “selection of the chief executive and electing all members of the Legislative Council is enshrined as an ultimate aim in the Basic Law.” In response to demands for political reform, the government will move forward in line with the Basic law and China’s interpretation of it, it said in a statement.“To achieve this aim, the community needs to engage in dialogues, premised on the legal basis and under a peaceful atmosphere with mutual trust, with a view to narrowing differences and attaining a consensus agreeable to all sides,” it said.Water cannon deployed (8:45 p.m.)Police deployed a water cannon, shooting blue dye, and fired tear gas after clashes with protesters. A group of people hurled bricks at officers and blocked off roads, police said in a statement.Protesters praised (8 p.m.)Organizers of the rally and speakers at the event praised the protest movement and the people’s solidarity in opposing Lam’s extradition bill.Joshua Wong, a prominent leader of the Occupy Movement, said the demonstrations had put Hong Kong in the international spotlight and was the reason the U.S. is considering passing a Human Rights act to monitor the level of autonomy in the city. He said there was no turning back for the movement.Civil Human Rights Front, the organizer of the rally, said in a statement that five years after the Umbrella Movement fought for universal suffrage, nothing has been achieved and protest leaders have been jailed. This year, a new generation of activists inspired almost one third of the city’s population to take to the streets and force Lam into withdrawing the bill. Still, the protesters must continue to fight for their five demands, it said.Rally starts (7 p.m.)Thousands of people packed Tamar Park in Admiralty to mark the fifth year since the Occupy protests that were centered in the area. The protesters sang, waved their mobile phones and shone lasers as they waited for the guest speakers.Protesters took over roads leading to the venue and police said they used “minimum force” to disperse some who had charged at officers’ cordons.Red alert at government building (6:40 p.m.)The Legislative Council Secretariat issued a red alert, requiring everybody at the lawmakers’ building in Admiralty to evacuate for safety reasons.Riot police guard stations (6:30 p.m.)Some access points into train stations near the site of Saturday’s rally were shut, and rail operator MTR Corp. said service could be disrupted, as riot police stood guard outside exits to the facilities.Thousands of people poured into the area for the rally to commemorate the Occupy protest and massed at Tamar Park in Admiralty.Lennon Wall link (4 p.m.)Protesters created so-called Lennon Walls in Victoria Park in attempt to link them through the district of Wan Chai to Admiralty, where the Occupy protest was staged in 2014.In Admiralty, people plastered walls with posters of Mao Zedong, saying “Revolution is no crime, to rebel is justified” -- a popular slogan used by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. China’s President Xi Jinping’s image covered the floor in some areas.Wong to stand in elections (Saturday 11:30 a.m.)Joshua Wong announced that he’ll run in the city’s district council elections in November. He told a press conference in Hong Kong on Saturday that if the government disqualifies him from taking part, it will face more protests and international pressure.Xi approved bill withdrawal: SCMP (7 a.m.)Hong Kong’s Lam asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for approval before withdrawing her controversial extradition bill, the South China Morning Post reported, citing unidentified people.Lam said at the time that it was her decision to withdraw the proposed law to try to break the political deadlock and enter into some form of dialogue with the public, and that China respected her reasons for doing so, the Post reported. The plan was sent to Xi’s office for approval before it was announced on Sept. 4, the newspaper cited a person close to the government as saying.Restore rule of law: lawyers (Saturday 7 a.m.)A group of 339 local lawyers called on the government and the people of Hong Kong to uphold and protect the rule of law in a full-page advertisement published in Sing Tao newspaper on Saturday.The lawyers, who didn’t provide names but listing their identity numbers, condemned all violence and called for respect for people’s safety, rights and freedoms, and for public property. They said Hong Kong must restore its place as a “shining beacon in the region for safety, personal freedoms and economic opportunity for persons of all backgrounds.”They said the statement was issued in their personal capacities.\--With assistance from Melissa Cheok and Shawna Kwan.To contact the reporters on this story: Natalie Lung in Hong Kong at flung6@bloomberg.net;Aaron Mc Nicholas in Hong Kong at amcnicholas2@bloomberg.net;Manuel Baigorri in Hong Kong at mbaigorri@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Stanley JamesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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