Hong Kong protesters ignore police and go past designated rally endpoint

Rival rally supports police across harbour on Hong Kong island

Hong Kong protesters have ignored police warnings and streamed past the designated endpoint for a rally in the latest demonstration targeting the government of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Protesters called for a strike on Monday as they filled the roads in a usually bustling Mong Kok market district, in reference to demonstrators’ calls for a city-wide shutdown. Shop owners shuttered their storefronts in anticipation of a prolonged demonstration.

The street along the route was completely filled with protesters, while other roads were reduced to single lanes. One black-clad protester directed traffic for a line of taxis attempting to get through. Some passing drivers honked their horns and yelled words of encouragement, eliciting cheers from the crowd.

Police warned earlier in the day that those who continued past the pre-approved route would be breaking the law. They called on protesters to stick to designated routes and times after violent clashes marred previous rallies in the summer-long protest movement.



Many of Saturday’s demonstraters wore yellow or white hard hats, and the crowds chanted “age of revolution!” and “Hongkongers, add oil!” - a popular exhortation in Cantonese.

“I’m a little worried about whether the police force might use violent ways on the demonstrators because the route of the demonstration is a little bit narrow, and if we want to leave it might be difficult to get away from the police,” said a 20-year-old university student named Ivan.

“I think this entire movement will continue until at least the end of 2019,” he said.

Hundreds of marchers held posters with an illustration of protesters in hard hats tending to a young child, with the words “protect the future”.

The crowd was mostly young, but also included families and many older people. Some young couples held hands.

“We are here because we want to stick up for Hong Kong. We don’t need an evil law to take over Hong Kong,” said a woman surnamed Yau who was joined by family members including her 11-year-old daughter.

As the marchers gathered at the starting point, one passed around pre-paid subway cards to young groups, while others gave out chicken wings and McDonalds food. When the march started, volunteers handed out hard hats, face masks and water bottles.

Most of the shops in the upscale Langham Place shopping mall had pulled down their shutters by late afternoon, and many street-facing businesses along the march route had closed.

Police supporters

Across the harbour, on Hong Kong island, thousands of police supporters, mostly wearing white, gathered for a separate rally amid a carnival-like atmosphere in Victoria Park.

Many waved Hong Kong and Chinese flags and the crowd shouted slogans in support of the police. Pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho was greeted with strong applause.

“We are the real Hong Kong people who are not the same as those black-shirted thugs. We don’t need a so-called ‘HK revolution’, we only need to do our best, which is enough,” he told the crowd.

Sylvia Lam (61) who described herself as a housewife, said she had turned up at the pro-police rally to oppose violence.

“I feel extremely uncomfortable when every time I watch TV, the scenes are so radical,” she said.

“Young people should stop and think, don’t become someone’s political tools, be rational please,” she said.

More protests planned

Further anti-government protests were scheduled for Sunday, with activists calling for a mass strike on Monday.

On Friday evening in central Hong Kong, thousands of civil servants defied a warning from authorities to remain politically neutral and joined anti-government protests for the first time since they started two months ago.

In Washington on Friday, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers called on the Trump administration to halt future sales of munitions and crowd-control equipment to Hong Kong’s police force, which has been accused of using excessive force against protesters.

Under Chinese rule, Hong Kong has been allowed to retain extensive freedoms, such as an independent judiciary, but many residents see the extradition bill as the latest step in a relentless march towards mainland control.

The protests are the most serious political crisis in Hong Kong since it returned to China 22 years ago.

They also pose the greatest popular challenge to Chinese leader Xi Jinping since he took office in 2012 and come as Xi grapples with an escalating trade war with the United States and a slowing economy in a politically sensitive year. On Oct. 1, China will mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.


A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 under the framework of “one country, two systems”. The city’s mini-constitution promises certain freedoms not afforded to those in the mainland, but people from Hong Kong say Beijing has chipped away at their autonomy in recent years.

Several thousand civil servants and their supporters crowded into a public park on Friday evening to show solidarity with the movement, which has broadened to include demands for direct elections and an investigation into alleged police brutality.

Hong Kong residents have accused police of negligence after 44 people were injured last month in a mob attack that appeared to target protesters. Authorities said their resources are stretched due to the prolonged demonstrations.

Mong Kok, the site of Saturday’s protest, is one area where protesters set up a pro-democracy demonstration zone in 2014. Near the end of the Occupy Central protests, police officers descended on the site and tore down the metal barricades, bamboo and wooden planks protesters had used to block off key streets. –PA/ Reuters