Hong Kong protesters flee to Taiwan amid escalating tensions

Elias Hubbard
December 9, 2019

He said protesters like him feared that if they stop hitting the streets, Beijing will only clamp down harder on the city's remaining freedoms. Most railway and transport links ran smoothly during the morning rush hour and there were no reports of widespread disruptions.

Vast crowds of black-clad demonstrators had thronged the streets of the Asian financial hub on Sunday, in the largest anti-government rally since local elections last month and a resounding show of continued support for the pro-democracy movement.

Authorities, who have liberally used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets at previous demonstrations, say force has been necessary to disperse hard-core protesters who have battled riot officers, vandalised shops and thrown gasoline bombs.

Reuters reporters at the march on Sunday saw graffiti and protesters setting up barricades, but were not in the vicinity of the other incidents. "Today is about standing with Hong Kong, and the worldwide community".

Protesters estimated the turnout at 800,000, while police said it was 183,000.

Police said earlier on Sunday they had arrested 11 people, aged 20 to 63 and seized weapons including army knives, firecrackers, 105 bullets and a semi-automatic pistol, the first seizure of a handgun in six months of protests. Some 6,000 people have been arrested and hundreds injured, including police, since June.

Others chanted, "Fight for Freedom, stand with Hong Kong", one of the slogans of the anti-government movement.

"Hong Kong people have a very clear mind, that winning the elections was not the end of everything", he added.

Macau's security chief, Wong Sio Chak, on Monday said security concerns were the only reason for barring entry into the city, broadcaster RTHK reported.

Pro-Beijing supporters wave Chinese national flags during a rally in Hong Kong, China December 7, 2019.

Once rare for Hong Kong, violence has escalated throughout the year, as protesters have torched vehicles and buildings, hurled petrol bombs, dropped debris from bridges onto traffic and vandalized shopping malls.

Marchers said protesting has become part of the fabric of their lives since mass demonstrations erupted in June against a now-withdrawn government measure that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts in mainland China. It has since morphed into calls for greater democratic freedoms and sometimes violent protests.

At Sunday's protest, chants of "five demands, not one less" rang out, referring to demands that include the setting up of an independent commission of inquiry to look into police brutality and amnesty for those detained over the past six months for various offenses linked with the protests.

Beijing denies meddling, has condemned the unrest and blamed foreign governments, including the United States and former colonial power Britain, of interfering in the country's internal affairs.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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