Hong Kong on edge ahead of China’s 70th an­niver­sary

Strikes, protests planned; high-pro­file ac­tivists ar­rested af­ter night of clashes

The Korea Times - - WORLD -

HONG KONG (Reuters) — Hong Kong’s metro sta­tions and roads re-opened on Mon­day af­ter a chaotic week­end that saw po­lice fire wa­ter can­non, tear gas and rub­ber bul­lets at pro­test­ers who set fires and threw petrol bombs out­side gov­ern­ment of­fices and across cen­tral dis­tricts.

The Chi­nese ter­ri­tory is on edge ahead of the 70th an­niver­sary of the found­ing of the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic on Tues­day, with au­thor­i­ties ea­ger to avoid scenes that could em­bar­rass the cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Bei­jing.

A huge clean-up was un­der way af­ter roads, shops and build­ings across the fi­nan­cial cen­ter were daubed in graf­fiti, win­dows in gov­ern­ment build­ings smashed and parts of pave­ments up­rooted by pro­test­ers dur­ing the week­end’s demon­stra­tions.

Some un­der­ground sta­tions were van­dal­ized and streets were lit­tered with de­bris from road­blocks and the charred re­mains of fires.

Two prom­i­nent democ­racy ac­tivists, ac­tor Gre­gory Wong and Ven­tus Lau, were ar­rested for their in­volve­ment in protests on Mon­day, ac­cord­ing to a rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Civil Hu­man Rights Front (CHRF), the or­ga­nizer of pre­vi­ous mass protests.

Hong Kong po­lice did not im­me­di­ately con­firm the ar­rests.

CHRF said on Mon­day au­thor­i­ties had re­jected a per­mit for a march planned for Tues­day from Vic­to­ria Park in the bustling tourist dis­trict of Cause­way Bay to Chater Road, next to gov­ern­ment head­quar­ters, based on se­cu­rity con­cerns.

Pro­tes­tors are ex­pected to pro­ceed with demon­stra­tions across Hong Kong re­gard­less.

The city’s leader, Car­rie Lam, the fo­cus of the un­rest, made a last-minute de­ci­sion to mark the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic an­niver­sary in Bei­jing. The em­bat­tled leader had sent out in­vi­ta­tions “re­quest­ing the plea­sure of your com­pany” at a flag-rais­ing cer­e­mony and re­cep­tion in Hong Kong on Tues­day.

Se­cu­rity was tight around the Con­ven­tion Cen­tre where the cer­e­mony is due to take place, with roads closed and riot po­lice on guard. A se­ries of strikes are planned on Mon­day and mul­ti­ple demon­stra­tions are sched­uled on Tues­day.

It was not clear whether Lam was sum­moned to Bei­jing due to the es­ca­la­tion in the vi­o­lence on the week­end. The gov­ern­ment said Chief Sec­re­tary for Ad­min­is­tra­tion Matthew Che­ung Kin-chung would stand in for her at the an­niver­sary cer­e­mony.

The un­rest over the week­end saw some of the worst and most wide­spread vi­o­lence in more than three months of anti-gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tions in the Asian fi­nan­cial hub.

The week­end marked the fifth an­niver­sary of the start of the “Um­brella” protests — a se­ries of pro-democ­racy demon­stra­tions in 2014 that failed to wres­tle con­ces­sions from Bei­jing .

The lat­est clashes be­gan mid-af­ter­noon on Sun­day and con­tin­ued late into the night, as thou­sands of masked pro­test­ers roamed the streets, fac­ing off against riot po­lice amid plumes of tear gas and rag­ing fires.

Xi bows to Mao

BEI­JING (AFP) — Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping paid his re­spects to Chair­man Mao Ze­dong’s em­balmed body Mon­day in a rare ges­ture ahead of China’s cel­e­bra­tion of 70 years of Com­mu­nist rule.

Xi and other top Chi­nese of­fi­cials vis­ited Mao’s mau­soleum — lo­cated in the heart of Bei­jing in Tianan­men Square — and bowed three times to the late leader’s statue, re­ported of­fi­cial news agency Xin­hua.

He also paid re­spects to the re­mains of Mao, whose em­balmed body is kept in a glass dis­play at the memo­rial hall.

The last time a Chi­nese leader bowed to the statue of the “Great Helms­man” was six years ago, when Xi com­mem­o­rated Mao’s 120th birth­day.

The move to honor the founder of the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of China comes as the coun­try read­ies it­self for a day of tightly-chore­ographed fes­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing a mas­sive mil­i­tary pa­rade and the re­lease of 70,000 doves.

The an­niver­sary is meant to show­case China’s ex­tra­or­di­nary rise from the rav­ages of war and famine to a modern, pow­er­ful na­tion state whose eco­nomic and mil­i­tary mus­cle is viewed by many with in­creas­ing con­cern.

But the cel­e­bra­tion comes in a very bad year for the Chi­nese pres­i­dent.

AP-Yon­hap

Pro­tes­tors dis­play anti-China plac­ards in Hong Kong, Sun­day. Riot po­lice fired tear gas af­ter a large crowd of pro­test­ers at a Hong Kong shop­ping dis­trict ig­nored warn­ings to dis­perse in a sec­ond straight day of clashes, spark­ing fears of more vi­o­lence ahead of China’s Na­tional Day.

AP-Yon­hap

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping bows at the steps of the Mon­u­ment to the Peo­ple’s He­roes dur­ing a cer­e­mony to mark Mar­tyr’s Day at Tianan­men Square in Bei­jing, Mon­day. Xi led other top of­fi­cials in pay­ing re­spects to the founder of the com­mu­nist state Mao Ze­dong ahead of a mas­sive cel­e­bra­tion of the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic’s 70th an­niver­sary.

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