Hong Kong - Tens of thousands of protesters marched through one of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist areas on Sunday, trying to gain support from mainland Chinese visitors for the city’s opposition to an extradition bill, which has caused political turmoil.
Protests against the now-suspended bill have drawn millions of people to the streets, posing the biggest challenge Beijing has faced to its rule in the territory since Hong Kong returned to Chinese control in 1997.
The protests have received little coverage in mainland China, however, with censors blocking news of the largest demonstrations on Chinese soil since the bloody suppression of pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
The bill, which would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party, has triggered outrage across broad sections of Hong Kong society amid concerns it threatens the much-cherished rule of law that underpins the city’s international financial status.
China and Britain have engaged in a public spat over the bill but Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming told BBC TV on Sunday that China was “not interested in diplomatic war with the UK” and he had full confidence in Hong Kong’s ability to resolve the situation without China’s intervention.
Protesters on Sunday braved intermittent rain and marched through streets of Tsim Sha Tsui, a popular shopping destination dotted with luxury shops, to try to deliver their message directly to mainland Chinese tourists in the hope of garnering sympathy.
They also handed out flyers and sent messages by social media and Apple’s phone-to-phone AirDrop system written in the simplified form of Chinese characters used on the mainland.
“It is hoped that Hong Kong people can spread how Hong Kong people can march peacefully and bring the protest information back to the mainland to mainland visitors,” said Lau Wing-hong, one of the protest organisers.
The march was the first major demonstration since Monday when protesters besieged and ransacked the legislative building in the heart of the city on the 22nd anniversary of the handover before being driven back by police firing tear gas. - Reuters