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HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s police chief urged people to demonstrate peacefully on Sunday, when organizers expect a large turnout for a pro-democracy march intended to show the movement still has strong momentum.
Police have given a rare green light to the demonstration, organized by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the group that called the largely peaceful million-strong marches in the summer.
“We hope our citizens can show the whole world Hong Kong people are capable of holding a large-scale rally in an orderly and peaceful manner,” police commissioner Chris Tang said on Friday before departing on a “courtesy visit” to Beijing.
Tang was expected to meet senior officials of China’s ministry of public security and return to Hong Kong hours before Sunday’s protest.
The march will gauge support for the pro-democracy movement following its victory in local elections last month.
The protests that started in June over a now-shelved extradition bill have snowballed into an anti-China campaign amid anger over what many view as Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong’s autonomy since the former British colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
(Pictured) A pro-democracy protester shouts after being detained by policemen during a rally, on Dec. 1.
Workers and protesters from the advertising sector attend a rally during a week-long strike in Chater Garden, on Dec. 2.
Posters (bottom) referring to various protest-related dates and incidents since June 12 are seen at a “Lennon Wall” in North Point on Dec. 2.
Workers from the advertising sector attend a rally to commence a five day strike, on Dec. 2, to demand the government to respond to the five demands of the city’s pro-democracy protest movement.
An anti-government demonstrator holds a flag as people gather for a lunchtime protest at Chater Garden in Hong Kong, China, December 2, 2019.
Anti-government demonstrators stand still during a moment of silence as people gather for a lunchtime protest on Dec. 2.
Pro-democracy protesters climb over a highway dividers fleeing from police arrests during a mass rally on Dec. 1.
Pro-democracy protesters flood a street during a rally on Dec. 1.
Pro-democracy protesters set fire at an entrance gate of Whampoa MTR station on Dec. 1.
First aid volunteers help a woman (C) affected by tear gas during a march from the Tsim Sha Tsui district to Hung Hom on Dec. 1.
Riot police hold up a black flag warning ahead of firing tear gas as people take part in a march from the Tsim Sha Tsui district to Hung Hom on Dec. 1.
A woman holding a baby shouts at police during the anti-government rally ‘Lest We Forget’ in Kowloon on Dec. 1.
People celebrate the results of last week’s district council elections in Wong Tai Sin, on Nov. 30.
A pro-democracy protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask celebrates the results of last week’s district council elections in Wong Tai Sin, on Nov. 30.
A man holds a flag reading “Reclaim Hong Kong, Revolution of our Time” as people celebrate the results of last week’s district council elections in Wong Tai Sin, on Nov. 30.
A man speaks to the crowd as they celebrate the results of last week’s district council elections in Wong Tai Sin, on Nov. 30.
Protesters join hands to form a human chain during a rally on Nov. 30.
A resident confronts riot police outside of the Prince Edward metro station on Nov. 30.
A riot policeman gestures at journalists along a street on Nov. 30.
Protesters raise their hand to symbolize the five demands of the pro-democracy movement during a rally for young and elderly pro-democracy demonstrators on Nov. 30.
A protester waves an American flag during a rally for young and elderly pro-democracy demonstrators on Nov. 30.
Pro-democracy protesters hold US national flags and a banner showing US President Donald Trump during a Thanksgiving rally in Edinburgh Place, on Nov. 28. Protesters were thanking US President Donald Trump for signing into a law ‘The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act Hong Kong’, provoking an angry backlash from the Chinese government.
Protesters hold up their hands to symbolise the 5 demands of the anti-government protest movement as they shout slogans during a rally against mass prosecution in Tsim Sha Tsui, on Nov. 28.
Protesters wave U.S. flags as they attend a gathering at the Edinburgh place, on Nov. 28.
Protestors look on as they embrace during a gathering at the Edinburgh place, on Nov. 28.
A protesters holds a placard during a rally at Edinburgh place, on Nov. 28.
Protesters wear masks and hold U.S. flags, on Nov. 28.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang speaks to reporters during a daily Foreign Ministry press conference in Beijing, on Nov. 28. China responds with anger and warns of countermeasures after US President Donald Trump’s signing of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, on Nov. 28.
A protester holds a placard with a quote from former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, on Nov. 28.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam casts her vote during the district council elections in Hong Kong on Nov. 24. Hong Kong voted in district council elections in a ballot the city’s pro-democracy movement hoped would send a message to the Beijing-backed government.
Police from Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit check on the molotov cocktails left over by protesters at the compound of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus, on Nov. 28.
Policemen from Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit walk by the debris scattered on a road as they enter the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus, on Nov. 28.
A Hong Kong police spokesperson holds a news conference in front of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, on Nov. 28.
Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong stands outside the Legislative Council building, on Nov. 28.
A Hong Kong Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau (EOD) personnel handles a Molotov cocktail as his team searches for explosives and chemicals at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, on Nov. 28.
Members of a safety team established by police and local authorities arrive on campus to assess and clear unsafe items, on Nov. 28.
People gather in support of pro-democracy protesters during a lunch break rally in the Kwun Tong, on Nov. 27.
Activists holding umbrellas in support of pro-democracy protesters in front of the Chinese consulate in the financial district of Manila on Nov. 27.
Office workers and pro-democracy protesters hold placards and raise their hands to represent their five demands, on Nov. 27.
Graffiti is seen in a stairwell at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, on Nov. 27.
Office workers gather in support of pro-democracy protesters during a lunch break rally at a shopping mall, on Nov. 26.
Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, center, stands in line to vote outside of a polling place, on Nov. 24.
Riot police seen outside a polling station where Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam is scheduled to vote, during local elections on Nov. 24.
Voters queue outside a polling station during district council local elections on Nov. 24.
Pro-government candidate Judy Chan, second from left, campaigns ahead of local elections, on Nov. 23. Chanting “No more tear gas,” dozens of Hong Kong families with young children are marching to oppose the government’s handling of protests on the eve of keenly contested local elections.
Protesters are detained by police near the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov. 18. Pro-democracy demonstrators holed up on campus set the main entrance ablaze to prevent surrounding police moving in, after officers warned they may use live rounds if confronted by deadly weapons.
Riot police stand in between pro-China supporters, center, as they shout slogans and gesture towards office workers (not pictured) gathering in support of pro-democracy protesters during a lunch break rally, on Nov. 22.
Protesters hold a banner saying ‘Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our times’ during an anti-government rally on Nov. 22.
A soft toy, a helmet and used petrol bomb bottles are seen inside the Polytechnic University (PolyU) on the sixth day of a stand-off between police and pro-democracy protesters at the campus, on Nov. 22.
A protester walks past debris piled at a barricade on the campus of the Polytechnic University where dozens of pro-democracy protesters remain holed up inside, in the Hung Hom district, on Nov. 22.
Slideshow by Photo Services
“We want to tell Carrie Lam that the election results are not the end of the movement,” CHRF vice-convener Eric Lai said, referring to the chief executive of the Chinese-ruled city.
Police said they would intervene “immediately” if Sunday’s march turned violent. The unrest in Hong Kong is the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
Hundreds of protesters came out on Friday night to urge police to stop using tear gas. More than 10,000 rounds of tear gas have been fired by police in response to increasingly violent rallies.
“It’s not only a political issue but a matter of public health,” said Leung, a 25-year-old nurse who wore a black mask. “They shoot tear gas into residential areas.”
Police have said they have been forced to used tear gas to break up violent demonstrations. Residents have cited fears of dioxin poisoning from the gas. The city government has said it has found no evidence of dioxin poisoning from tear gas.
The former British colony has been racked by six months of pro-democracy protests, sparked by a now-withdrawn bill allowing extradition to China, which have widened into calls for greater democratic freedoms.
Protesters have set out five demands, including an investigation into alleged police brutality and universal suffrage. Beijing has condemned the unrest and blamed foreign interference.
Despite the increasingly violent tactics of some protesters, pro-democracy candidates won almost 90% of seats in the Nov. 24 local elections, following the highest turnout since local polls began in 1999.
Results of a survey by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI) released on Friday show public satisfaction with the police has plummeted in the past year.
Calculated on a ranking out of 100, with zero representing very dissatisfied, the police scored 35.34, almost halving from November last year when they scored 62.48.
Net satisfaction with the police is the lowest since 1997, when PORI began comparable polling.
Economic data this week points to the growing toll of the sustained protests on the major global financial hub, which slid into recession this year for the first time in a decade.
© Reuters/DANISH SIDDIQUI
Anti-government protesters attend a “Say no to tear gas” rally in Hong Kong
The unrest has contributed 2 percentage points to Hong Kong’s third-quarter economic contraction of 3.2%, Finance Secretary Paul Chan told legislators on Friday.
On Wednesday, Chan pledged new relief measures of an extra HK$4 billion ($511 million), taking total stimulus plans to HK$25 billion.
Subway operator MTR Corp expects a decline of HK$1.6 billion in annual net profit, hit by a drop of 14% in passengers during the protests, as well as damage to its stations and facilities.
By Saturday, transport authorities will complete a review of plans for a cash injection for Hong Kong Airlines, which is battling a steep decline in demand as a result of the protests.
(Reporting by Clare Jim and Sarah Wu; Writing by Kate Lamb and David Dolan; Editing by Michael Perry, Clarence Fernandez, Alison Williams and Giles Elgood)
Published at Fri, 06 Dec 2019 01:31:00 +0000
Source: Hong Kong police chief calls for peace ahead of weekend …