Assembly disrupts Hong Kong again

By Chen Qingqing and Lu Wenao in Hong Kong, Li Ruohan in Beijing Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/19 0:33:57

City cannot survive heavy blow in economy if endless turmoil continues

Stores are shut down on Sunday after black-clad protesters illegally took to the streets in Central Hong Kong and blocked the roads. Photo: Chen Qingqing/GT

Black-clad protesters in Hong Kong detoured from a permitted assembly in Victoria Park and took to the nearby streets, blocking business operations and people's life over the weekend.


Hong Kong Police said 128,000 people attended the rally at it's peak, while the organizer of the Sunday protest, Civil Human Rights Front, claimed 1.7 million people participated.


Protests have hit the financial hub for 11 consecutive weeks, seriously hurting weekend consumption and causing traffic jams, Chinese mainland experts said.


As a large group of participants occupied major roads from Tin Hau to Western District of Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon, Hong Kong police warned drivers to avoid traveling to the area and stay tuned to the latest traffic updates.


About 5:30 pm black-clad protesters passed by Chater Garden which was supposed to be the end of the protest, and continued to move west along Des Voeux Road.


Protesters illegally marched through Hennessy Road and toward Admiralty where the police headquarters and government buildings are located. At about 8 pm, protesters were spotted using illuminating lasers on the wall of the office of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government headquarters.


Some protesters also shouted provocative words outside the headquarters of the Hong Kong police on Sunday night.


Traffic was also "seriously obstructed" after they blocked roads with "miscellaneous objects." Hong Kong police approved the rally only for Victoria Park in Causeway Bay.


Illegal assemblies during past weekends, with some evolving into violent clashes at midnight, have been complained about by many residents, businesses and tourism representatives.


Weekends are often the golden period for Hong Kong's business, while the businesses were less active than weekdays as the protests have jammed traffic and blocked major roads, said Victor Chan, vice chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Young Commentators.


If the massive illegal protests continue, it will be impossible for Hong Kong's economy to avoid or survive a heavy blow, he said.


In fact many people's lives have been severely affected by illegal protests, said Chan, calling for actual moves to end the violence. Hong Kong's economy expanded 0.5 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2019, slightly slower than the 0.6 percent growth in the preceding quarter, the Xinhua News Agency reported.


Tang Fei, a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times that though no radical violent move occurred during the Sunday rally, that did not mean the end of violence from Hong Kong opposition groups.


Tang warned that opposition forces might abandon violent protests for a more peaceful strategy such as strikes at businesses and schools, which was "more deceptive but also pose a strong impact on the society."


HKSAR government Sunday expressed regret over a public meeting that targeted the police in its slogan. About 180 police officers have been injured in clashes with violent protesters, the government said in a statement. 


During the last two months, radical protesters have obstructed roads, damaged public facilities, set fires, attacked police with bricks and petrol bombs, said the statement, but police "have been very restrained and they only disperse radical protesters with minimum force when violently attacked."


More than 476,000 Hong Kong residents, according to organizers, took to the streets on Saturday to voice support for police and opposition to violence from radical protesters that had disrupted their life and work for weeks.


The Safeguard Hong Kong assembly was held at Tamar Park despite rain, calling for an end to protesters' illegal demonstrations, desecration of the Chinese national flag and emblem, and the vandalizing of police stations and public facilities.


Since June 9, Hong Kong police have arrested 748 suspects during incidents in Sham Shui Po, Tai Po and Tin Shui Wai. Riots have injured 177 police officers.


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