Hong Kong protests hit Australian shores

Andrew Cummings
August 18, 2019

Posters showing bloody clashes are stuck on street corners and there is a protest almost every night.

Protests started in early June following concerns about an extradition bill that was set to pass.

On Saturday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freehand, in a joint statement with the European Union's Federica Mogherini, condemned the violence in Hong Kong as tensions escalate between pro-democracy protesters and police.

The Melbourne rally had turned ugly on Friday night, with police moving in to separate some 100 pro-China protesters from those sympathetic to Hong Kong. "But now even though we have protests every week, the government still gives no response". Organisers said 22,000 were present.

A female pro-China protester, who asked not to be named, said: "We want Hong Kong to be strong, but this will not happen if they leave what China provides".

A Toronto rally in solidarity with anti-government protesters in Hong Kong became physical Saturday afternoon as protesters were met with pro-Beijing demonstrators.

No violent incidents were reported at the pro-democracy rally, which was held with police permission at a public square at the city's financial district.

Previous bans in recent weeks have simply been ignored by protesters and have soon led to clashes with riot police.

Ten weeks of demonstrations have plunged the global finance hub into crisis and communist-ruled mainland China has taken an increasingly hardline tone, including labelling the more violent protester actions "terrorist-like". They marched to the official residence of the city's leader, Carrie Lam. "This is the moment they truly need it", said Ken Tang, a spokesperson for the Canada Save Hong Kong team that organized the Calgary rally.

He denounced the Hong Kong protesters' actions as "radical, violent and illegal" and said they were determined to undermine its "one country, two systems" arrangement.

The teachers tied white ribbons to a metal fence near Government House to show their support for the protesters, who have taken to the streets since early June and include many students. Protesters have used slingshots to fire marbles at police, shone lasers at them and at times thrown bricks and firebombs.

For the first weekend in nearly three months, protests on Saturday (Aug 17) were largely peaceful with no bloodshed, chaos and devoid of violent clashes on the streets between riot police and protesters.

Although their stations have been attacked scores of times during the crisis, they have so far refrained from deploying water cannon, armoured cars or the dog squad.

Cathay's stocks also fell to 10-year lows on Tuesday, but bounced back the following day after the airline condemned the protests, Reuters said, adding that the company had vowed to follow Chinese aviation regulations and terminated employment for two pilots involved in the protests.

Hong Kong has both good resources and geographic advantages, it is also endowed with new functions due to many national strategies, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, according to 32-year-old Zhang Chunzi, who is in charge of a fund company.

"Their behaviours have grossly trampled on the rule of law and social order in Hong Kong, seriously threatened the local residents' life and safety, severely jeopardised Hong Kong's prosperity and stability", he said.

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