U.S. Markets closed

Police Deploy Tear Gas, Water Cannons: Hong Kong Update

Aaron Mc Nicholas, Chloe Whiteaker and Justin Chin

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters who lobbed petrol bombs at government offices, as tens of thousands defied a ban on a mass rally and marched on Sunday.

Violence escalated in another weekend of demonstrations. Hundreds had gathered outside the British Consulate earlier in the day chanting “God Save the Queen” and urging the former colonial ruler to ensure China honors its commitments to the city. On Saturday, violence between pro-China demonstrators and other protesters erupted in parts of the city.

The Civil Human Rights Front -- the organizer of several historically large, but peaceful rallies earlier this summer -- had canceled its plan to march through the city center after authorities upheld their ban on the gathering. Police cited violence around previous protests, saying the route was too close to “high-risk buildings” including government offices and subway stations.

Demonstrations have continued despite Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s Sept. 4 decision to withdraw the extradition legislation that sparked the unrest more than three months ago.

Here’s the latest (all times local):

Train Services Halted (6:01 p.m.)

Train services at another subway station were suspended “because of a sudden escalation in the situation,” transport operator MTR said in a statement.

‘Radical’ protesters (5:48 p.m.)

The police said it used tear gas and water cannons to disperse “radical protesters” who are vandalizing government offices and repeatedly throwing petrol bombs. They are threatening the safety of police officers and members of the public at the scene, it said in a statement.

Tear Gas Fired (5:15 p.m.)

Protesters outside government headquarters threw petrol bombs and police firing tear gas in Admiralty and a main highway through the area, Harcourt Road. A water cannon truck was on standby in neighboring Central. Hundreds of protesters also made their way to IFC mall, many singing and chanting.

Police Warn Protesters (4:50 p.m.)

Hong Kong’s police force issued an official tweet warning that people were participating in a gathering that had not been authorized. “They are participating in an unauthorised assembly. Police warn the protesters to stop their illegal acts immediately. The Police appeal to drivers to avoid traveling to the area and stay tuned to the latest traffic arrangements,” they wrote. They also said in a statement that demonstrators were occupying Hennessy Road, Queensway, and Des Voeux Road Central, obstructing traffic. Police would begin dispersal operations in the Admiralty and Central areas soon, RTHK reported. It also said Admiralty station -- a major transit point -- was temporary closed, and trains weren’t stopping there. Some protesters in Wan Chai burned a Chinese flag.

Thousands Stream Toward Central (4:30 p.m.)

Tens of thousands of demonstrators wearing black and carrying umbrellas poured down a major thoroughfare from Causeway Bay toward Central, a business and shopping area popular with tourists and located near ferry ports, bank and government offices and key subway stations. One person climbed on top of a tram depot, waving a large American flag as the crowds streamed by. Another tried to take down a banner celebrating the upcoming 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China at the former Hutchison House site.

Malls Closed as Crowds Swell (3:16 p.m.)

Shopping centers including the massive SOGO department store in the tourist hub of Causeway Bay closed as tens of thousands of people swarmed into central areas of Hong Kong. Police raised a yellow flag by the city’s government headquarters, noting a cordon that should not be crossed. Some of the crowd was approaching the ritzy Pacific Place mall in Admiralty nearby, and people in the crowd made hand gestures at officers as they passed by. Riot police stood by in the Central subway station.

“I think the momentum for this protest activity is still going,” said Peter, a 30-year-old student who declined to give his surname, as he came out to protest. “You see, the government is just answering the one demand. They [the police] are arresting our children. We are asking for five demands, not one less.”

Union Jacks (1:30 p.m.)

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the British Consulate near the city’s main business district, some of whom were waving Union Jacks and colonial-era Hong Kong flags. They were urging the U.K. to ensure that China honors its commitments to the city and chanting “God Save the Queen. U.K. Save Hong Kong” and “Joint Declaration is dead.” The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Air traffic tumbles (Sunday, 1 p.m.)

Hong Kong International Airport handled 6 million passengers in August, down 12.4% from a year earlier, according to figures published by the Airport Authority on Sunday. It said the decline was mainly due to lower visitor numbers. There was also a “significant” fall in passenger traffic to and from mainland China, Southeast Asia and Taiwan, it said.

Clashing demonstrations (6 p.m.)

Clashes between pro-Beijing demonstrators and other people went on throughout the day. In early afternoon, marchers carrying Hong Kong and China flags fought in the streets of Fortress Hill with passersby and bystanders, while across the harbor in Kowloon Bay police separated groups battling in a shopping mall after a rally there in support of China.

School students gather (5 p.m.)

Hundreds of students rallied at a public area in the city’s Central district in the weekend’s only protest event approved by police, RTHK reported. The secondary school pupils gathered in support of ongoing anti-China demonstrations.

Blue flag warning (4 p.m.)

Riot police at an unauthorized rally in the border town of Tin Shui Wai raised a blue flag, warning protesters to disperse, after hundreds of people congregated.

Airport operations ‘normal’ (3.40 p.m.)

A spokesman for Airport Authority Hong Kong said in an email that operations were normal Saturday. Protesters had planned a “stress test” to try to disrupt transportation to the city’s airport.

Protester sentenced (1.30 p.m.)

The first demonstrator to be sentenced during months of social unrest was ordered to 80 hours of community service by a Hong Kong court on Friday, the South China Morning Post reported.

Cheung Wing-kei, 37, who pleaded guilty to criminal damage, threw metal objects at a wall of ­Castle Peak Police Station in Tuen Mun on Aug. 9 when demonstrators surrounded the facility, according to the report. Acting Principal Magistrate Cheung Kit-yee said he had put officers in danger, the Post said.

--With assistance from Fion Li, Jinshan Hong and Alfred Liu.

To contact the reporters on this story: Aaron Mc Nicholas in Hong Kong at amcnicholas2@bloomberg.net;Chloe Whiteaker in Hong Kong at cwhiteaker@bloomberg.net;Justin Chin in Hong Kong at hchin15@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Karen Leigh, Shamim Adam

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.