Over 60 arrested in HK protests

By Agatha Yuen Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-28 1:53:01

Unstable atmosphere affects competitiveness: expert

A demonstration in Hong Kong by members of student protest groups the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism on Friday night resulted in the arrest of over 60 people.

At around 10 pm on Friday night, during a week-long boycott of classes, hundreds of students stormed into Civil Square, a sealed off public space next to the government headquarters, while thousands of protesters had gathered outside in support of the students.

The leader of the Scholarism group, 17-year-old student Joshua Wong Chi-fung, was denied bail on Saturday after being charged with trespassing on government-controlled property, breaching the peace and engaging in illegal protest.

Wong was still being detained by the police as of press time while the other 60 arrested demonstrators aged between 17 and 58 had been released, local media reported Saturday.

Ta Kung Pao, a local newspaper, described the scene as a "riot" and said that the activist groups had set students up as many participants did not know the break-in was actually illegal.

Another newspaper, Wen Wei Po, also reported that the protest was a peaceful sit-in until Wong shouted in the microphone and asked protesters to "regain the Civil Square."

Since September 22, thousands of high school and university students have been assembling in Tamar outside the government headquarters to protest against the central government's stance on the local 2017 electoral reform, as activists claimed that the universal suffrage framework will exclude "democratic candidates."

The boycott protest is seen as a prelude to a larger protest on October 1 planned by pro-democracy group Occupy Central.

Occupy Central has pledged to stage a sit-in in Central, Hong Kong's financial district,  to shut down the area.

Liu Naiqiang, a member of the National People's Congress's Hong Kong Basic Law Committee, said Occupy Central leader Benny Tai Yiu-ting and his group have been attempting to overthrow the local government but they dare not take real action. Now Tai is suggesting the establishment of a "shadow chief executive" again, because he wants to challenge the government's authority.

However, Liu said that Hong Kong society will not agree with Tai's  attempts to establish a shadow chief executive.

Not a lot of people joined past protests led by Occupy Central and other pro-democracy groups, which shows that the majority of citizens in Hong Kong do not agree with them.

Qi Pengfei, a professor from the Hong Kong and Macao Research Centre at the Renmin University of China, said the protest will affect Hong Kong's international position as a financial center. "Hong Kong has been becoming less competitive among other cities in recent years. The continuous protests will only make the local political situation even worse and more unstable which will affect the public interest as a result," Qi said.

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