Hong Kong: Tear gas, pepper spray and fire returned to the streets of Hong Kong, as police officers clashed with masked pro-democracy protesters in the first notable display of unrest since Hong Kong’s top leader announced that she would withdraw a deeply unpopular extradition bill. Hong Kong police prevented anti-government protesters from blocking access to the airport, but fired tear gas for a second night running in the Chinese-ruled city’s densely populated district of Mong Kok in the 14th week of unrest. The besieged Mong Kok police station was surrounded by police barriers after being the target of repeated protests. Firefighters rushed in to put out a blazing street barricade set up by protesters in the area and lines of riot police advanced down the streets, driving the demonstrators away from the shopping and residential area.
On Saturday, police checked for tickets and passports to allow only airline passengers through to the airport to avoid the chaos of last weekend, when activists blocked access roads, threw debris on to train tracks and trashed the MTR subway station in Tung Chung. As night fell, there were some cat-and-mouse standoffs between protesters and police in Tung Chung.
More than three months of protests have at times paralysed parts of Hong Kong, amid running street battles between protesters and police who have responded with tear gas, pepper spray and water cannon. Protesters gathered again after nightfall on Saturday to be dispersed by tear gas followed by running clashes with police. It was quickly over. “We didn’t have the numbers,” said one masked male protester who fled from a station pursued by riot police. “We’ll be back.”
Protesters urge Trump to ‘liberate’ HK
Thousands of protesters earlier sang the Star Spangled Banner and called on US President Donald Trump to “liberate” the city. They waved the Stars and Stripes and placards demanding democracy. “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” they shouted before handing over petitions at the US Consulate. “Resist Beijing, liberate Hong Kong.”
In a letter protesters presented to consulate officials, the group calls for the passing of the proposed “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act 2019” by the US Congress. US legislation addressing China’s actions in Hong Kong will be among the top priorities pushed by Senate Democrats when Congress returns to work after a recess next week, their leader, Senator Chuck Schumer, said. The legislation, would mandate that officials in China and Hong Kong who have undermined the city’s autonomy are vulnerable to sanctions.
US defense secretary Mark Esper urged China to exercise restraint in Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Esper made his call in Paris as police in Hong Kong prevented protesters from blocking access to the airport but fired tear gas for a second night running in the densely populated district of Mong Kok.