Police Battle Protesters As Strike Paralyses Hong Kong
HONG KONG, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Police fired tear gas at protesters in multiple parts of Hong Kong on Monday after a general strike hit transportation and the city’s Beijing-backed leader warned its success was in danger. The protests surpassed previously shows of dissent in range and strength, seemingly stoked by Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam’s refusal once more to meet any of the protesters’ demands, while warning of an “extremely dangerous situation”.
What started several months ago as demonstrations over an extradition bill that would have let people be delivered to mainland China for trial have become into a much broader backlash against the town government and its political masters in Beijing. Amid considerable disruptions to traffic and trains, thousands of demonstrators fanned out across Hong Kong, distributing pouches of activism to the majority of its main three areas: Hong Kong island, Kowloon and the New Territories.
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Police channels were besieged and roads occupied. In the evening, several men equipped with sticks tried to attack the black-clad protesters in the North Point area. Riot law enforcement used tear gas in districts including Wong Tai Sin, Tin Shui Wai, Tai Po, and Admiralty close to the city’s federal government headquarters. Talking with the press for the very first time in two weeks, Lam remained defiant, rejecting phone calls to resign, condemning violence and saying the government would be resolute. She warned that the protests were putting Hong Kong on a path of no return and had hurt its economy.
Lam, flanked by some, however, not all senior people of her administration. Lam said, referring to the territory’s administrative system since 1997, when it was handed to China back. Demonstrators fear China is gradually encroaching on the island’s cherished autonomy. Jay Leung, 20, a university student who joined a protest, dismissing Lam’s words as a waste materials of your time.
Demonstrators obstructed key streets, including three tunnels, reducing major arteries linking Hong Kong island and the Kowloon Peninsula. In Yuen Long district, an automobile rammed through a barricade, knocking down protesters. Commuters battled to get to work, with many rail and bus services suspended by activists who blocked trains from departing stations, some by sitting down in doorways.
Long lines of traffic snaked across Hong Kong island into the heart of the business centre and hundreds of people were stranded at the airport, where more than 200 flights were terminated at one point. Many businesses shut, and workers stayed home. Mark Schmidt, 49, on Monday a restaurant manager who shut. Within an upmarket shopping mall in Sha Tin, scores of shops were shuttered, including clothing dealer H&M as well as luxury brands Dior and Chanel. Many stores in the bustling shopping district of Causeway Bay were closed for area of the day as well as businesses near to the protests.
Members of the Hong Kong Disneyland Cast Members Union continued strike, as do many lifeguards, forcing authorities to close some beaches and swimming pools. Police, who some have accused of using excessive force, said the situation was spiralling out of control. Authorities said 420 folks have been arrested over the protests since June 9, while law enforcement have fired 1,000 rounds of tear gas and about 160 rubber bullets.
The protesters’ needs include a complete drawback of the extradition expenses and an independent inquiry into federal government handling of the problems. With tourist amounts dropping and hotel occupancy rates slumping, the protests are piling pressure on a struggling overall economy. IHS Markit’s July Purchasing Managers’ Index for Hong Kong showed private sector business activity decreased to its lowest level in ten years, also weighed down by the Sino-U.S. Raymond Yeung, main China economist at ANZ. The benchmark Hang Seng Index closed 2 down.9 percent, falling to its lowest level since January.
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