HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters took to the hills to kind flashlight-carrying human chains on Friday, utilizing the Mid-Autumn Festival as a backdrop for the newest in additional than three months of demonstrations which have generally flared into violence.
FILE PHOTO: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam attends a information convention in Hong Kong, China September 10, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
The peaceable protests, on a day when households historically collect to stare upon the moon and eat mooncakes whereas kids swing vibrant lanterns from the finish of sticks, got here after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam promised to deal with housing and jobs to strive to finish the unrest.
Lam, who mentioned she triggered “unforgivable havoc” by igniting the disaster and would stop if she had the selection, mentioned in a Facebook put up her authorities would enhance the provide of housing in the Chinese-ruled metropolis.
“Housing and people’s livelihoods are the main priorities,” Lam mentioned. “The government will add to housing supply measures which will be continuously put in place and not missed.”
As darkness fell on Friday night time, protesters armed with flashlights, cell phones and flashing lanterns, gathered at Victoria Peak, overlooking the metropolis’s harbour, and Lion Rock, separating the New Territories from the Kowloon peninsula.
They have been additionally climbing to the prime of Tai Tung Shan on the offshore island of Lantau.
The spark for the protests was a now-withdrawn extradition invoice and issues that Beijing is eroding civil liberties, however many younger protesters are additionally indignant at sky-high dwelling prices and an absence of job prospects.
Hong Kong has a few of the world’s most costly actual property and plenty of younger individuals say the metropolis’s housing coverage is unfair, benefiting the wealthy whereas forcing them to dwell with their dad and mom or lease “shoe box” flats at exorbitant costs.
The demonstrations began in June in response to a invoice that might have allowed individuals to be despatched to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts, however have broadened into requires higher democracy.
The former British colony returned to China in 1997 below a “one country, two systems” method that ensures freedoms not loved on the mainland – together with a much-cherished unbiased authorized system.
At lunch on Friday, lots of of pro-Beijing supporters packed right into a shopping center waving China flags and singing the Chinese nationwide anthem.
Sit-ins at buying malls are additionally deliberate over the weekend.
Activists additionally plan to collect exterior the British consulate on Sunday to demand that China honours the Sino-British Joint Declaration that was signed in 1984, laying out Hong Kong’s post-1997 future.
China says Hong Kong is now its inside affair. It denies meddling in Hong Kong and has accused the United States, Britain and others of fomenting the unrest.
Britain says it has a obligation to guarantee China abides by its obligations below the Joint Declaration.
When protests have turned violence, police have responded to violence with tear gasoline, pepper spray, rubber bullets, water cannon and baton costs, as nicely as firing a number of dwell photographs in the air, prompting complaints of extreme pressure.
Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing mentioned on Friday he deeply regretted that his latest feedback about the protests have been misrepresented and reiterated that any actions that violate the rule of legislation can’t be tolerated.
Li’s assertion got here after China’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission printed an article on social media accusing the tycoon of “harbouring criminality” after he referred to as on the authorities to provide younger individuals an olive department amid the protests.
Li mentioned by means of his spokesperson in an announcement he would at all times settle for criticism, however most significantly “lenience is not the same as indulgence, (and) is not the same as disregarding legal procedures”.
Hong Kong is going through its first recession in a decade as a results of the unrest. A surge in migration purposes suggests extra locals are planning to go away.
China has referred to as on its largest state corporations to take a extra energetic function in Hong Kong, together with stepping up funding and asserting extra management over corporations.
Multiple Hong Kong occasions and conferences have been cancelled and the variety of guests plunged 40 % in August. The metropolis’s premier ladies’s tennis occasion scheduled for October has been postponed.
Organisers additionally referred to as off the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Matilda the Musical”, due to run from Sept. 20 to Oct. 20.
Police on Tuesday arrange an “anti-violence hotline” on which individuals may name in giving intelligence on deliberate unrest.
On Friday they introduced it had been shut down.
“A large amount of information was received and at the same time, there were different opinions,” police mentioned in an announcement. “…As a result, police decided to suspend the hot line.”
Additional reporting by Twinnie Siu, Noah Sin, Marius Zaharia, Poppy McPherson and Farah Master; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Giles Elgood and Alex Richardson