Hong Kong protests: Generation gap on the streets

Joanna Estrada
August 18, 2019

Britain handed control of Hong Kong back to China in 1997 on the basis of the Joint Declaration it signed with Beijing, which guarantees freedoms in the semi-autonomous city until 2047.

Pro-democracy protesters marched on one side of Hong Kong's famous harbour on Saturday to demand the government heed their demands.

The images damaged a movement that until then had largely only targeted the police or government institutions, and prompted some soul-searching among protesters. "It didn't used to be like this".

"We might not all have the same idea of how to achieve our demands. but we are all still here together", said one student protester. "I really hope the government can listen to us".

Hong Kong police, however, have said they are capable of handling the protests. The crowd was peaceful and included the elderly, the middle aged, young people and families, with some parents carrying toddlers. It affects an estimated 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong. "Now to see it become like this, I'm not happy, so I've come out to show a little strength".

Protests in Hong Kong took a dramatic escalation in June after the city plunged into one the worst political crises ever.

You Wenze called the comments "a gross violation of the spirit of the rule of law, a blatant double standard and a gross interference in China's internal affairs".

"We want one China".

Others carried banners proclaiming "Hong Kong independence".

While police granted approval for the rally, they didn't approve an accompanying march.

During the past week they have increasingly directed their frustration toward police, who have responded with fiercer determination to clear them from the streets.

"Today has been peaceful, which is exactly what Carrie Lam asked for", Mr Sham said, referring to Hong Kong's Chief Executive.

The movement's demands include Lam's resignation, democratic elections and an independent investigation into police use of force.

In an illustration of the ideological divides now coursing through Hong Kong, pro-government protesters also began rallying on Saturday in a park outside the city's parliament.

The 20-year-old says the inclement weather will not deter them.

"This is Canada. We have the constitutional right to freedom of expression". We're not doing anything wrong.

The assembly was peaceful, with no reports of violence, making for a rare calm weekend in a protest movement that has been marked by violent clashes with police.

Thousands of armed police have been stationed across the border in Shenzhen. But by the time the cops were assembled and started their charge, most of the protesters were gone and angry residents of the neighborhood accused them of being part of a criminal gang and told them to leave.

On Saturday, the "Big Four" accountancy firms scrambled to distance themselves from a purported advert placed in a newspaper by employers saying they supported the protests. Dozens of army-green armored carriers and trucks were parked inside and outside the facility.

"I'm heartbroken to see the city being split up like this", a retired telecoms technician, Michael Law, 69, told Reuters at the pro-police rally.

You did not mention any specific lawmaker, but numerous US senators and Congress members, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have affirmed the USA commitment to human rights and urged the Hong Kong government to end the standoff.

On Friday, the CEO of Cathay Pacific Airways resigned amid mounting Chinese regulatory scrutiny of the Hong Kong carrier over the involvement of its employees in the protests.

Sunday's turnout showed that the movement still has broad-based support despite the ugly scenes witnessed in recent days when protesters occupied the Chinese-ruled city's airport, a move for which some activists apologised.

But Hong Kong's police are under intense pressure, stretched by flashmob protests.

Leung says the police would be to blame if any chaos erupts. "Arrests should be a natural effect. If we can arrest more and more because they are undertaking illegal acts, so be it".

Some said they were saving their energy for Sunday, when the pro-democracy Civil Human Rights Front, which organised million-strong peaceful marches in June, has scheduled another protest.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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