Protesters in Hong Kong gathered today at the US Consulate in Hong Kong with American flags and signs asking the US to liberate the Special Administrative Region. The campaign also called on the Trump administration to legislate that Hong Kong’s autonomous status be annually reviewed with a view to ensuring that Hong Kong’s access to international markets be made dependent on respect for Hong Kong sovereignty and human rights on the territory.
The weekend’s protests came as Carrie Lam on 4 September finally agreed to the protesters central demand that the Hong Kong extradition bill, formally known as the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019, be withdrawn.
Throughout the day on Sunday there were various protests and scenes of disruption, with Hong Kong police at times looking embattled, at times appearing indiscriminate in their response, at others showing restraint in the face of intimidation.
Particularly chaotic scenes had been seen at Mong Kok overnight on 7 September with Hong Kong police coming out of their police station for a while to make targeted arrests before beginning a slow retreat back.
The entrance to the Central Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Station was set on fire on Saturday evening. Hong Kong riot police are seen holding up banners warning of tear gas, before launching tear gas into a busy shopping district. They are also seen employing tactical extractions of lead protesters, although it is not clear from the video that the protesters in question were engaged in any form of violence.
Several dozen protesters attacked police at Sha Tin station trying to release another protester who had been detained. The video on the South China Morning Post website shows a group of protesters surround police officers who retreated to a control room, before the protesters own attempts to spray foam from a fire extinguisher into the room backfired. They were further forced to beat a retreat when police reinforcements arrived.
The official Chinese news website Xinhua has described the arsonists as ‘radical demonstrators’ and highlighted the damage done to the Central MTR station. Yesterday, the site described the situation in Hong Kong as “chaos” and placed the blame on Hong Kong’s social problems including a lack of affordability in the housing market.
Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR addressing the crisis the day before issued the following statement to journalists:
Hong Kong has been reunited with China for 22 years, and over the years, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has benefited significantly from the opening up and continuous reform of the Mainland economy. I believe that this should continue for the mutual benefits of Hong Kong and Mainland, and also for the people on both sides.
As far as how we are going to take Hong Kong out of the current deadlock, I announced a couple of days ago I have offered four actions in order to do so, but this will require the joint efforts of everyone in society because if we are to stop violence and to return to law and order, then we need everyone in Hong Kong to speak loudly against the violence that we do not want to condone or to see.
Each of these four actions will be taken up by myself and my team, especially in effectively communicating with the people of Hong Kong to identify some of those fundamental deep-seated problems. I don’t want us to rush into a particular social issue being the cause of the current disturbance. We should look deeply and discuss with each other in order to identify those problems so that we can find the right solutions.
Since the middle of August, President Trump meanwhile has been reluctant to get too involved publicly in the Hong Kong question since the middle of August when China was moving troops to the Hong Kong border. By directly appealing to the United States for help, the protesters are increasing the stakes for Hong Kong autonomy and the perception of American power globally.
Image in public domain, courtesy of VOA America. https://twitter.com/VOAChinese/status/1170283792747171841/photo/1.