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Hong Kong police patrol against protests on China holiday

Hong Kong police patrol against protests on China holiday

Hong Kong police patrol against protests on China holiday

A police officer displays a warning banner on China's National Day in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Oct 1, 2020. (Photo: AP/Kin Cheung)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong police were out in force on China’s National Day holiday on Thursday (Oct 1), detaining and searching people on the streets of a popular shopping district after calls were made online urging people to take part in protests.

National Day, celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China, has become a day of protest in Hong Kong by those who oppose Beijing's increasing control in the city.

Small groups of protesters gathered in the popular Causeway Bay shopping district, although they were outnumbered by police. 

READ: Families fear for Hong Kong fugitives in China custody

Protesters raise five fingers, signifying "Five demands and not one less" as they march in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Oct 1, 2020. (Photo: AP/Kin Cheung) Hong Kong China National Day
A pedestrian's credentials are checked by police in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Oct 1, 2020. (Photo: AP/Kin Cheung)

Social-distancing restrictions due to COVID-19 meant large-scale protests do not have authorisation. Shoppers and passersby broke into chants sporadically, but there was no sign of large crowds.

"It's China's National Day but this is Hong Kong’s death day," said Jay, a woman dressed in black, the city's protest attire, as she walked past police.

"Hong Kong people are under a lot of pressure but we have to try and keep fighting for freedom."

READ: Carrie Lam says Hong Kong cannot demand rights protection for 12 arrested by China

A family is diverted by police as a precaution during China's National Day in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Oct 1, 2020. (Photo: AP/Kin Cheung)
Pedestrians pass police standing guard during China's National Day in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Oct 1, 2020. (Photo: AP/Kin Cheung)

In the afternoon, police cordoned off certain areas of the district and searched several people on the streets. A group of protesters chanted slogans including “Disband the police", and police unfurled their blue warning banner that urged protesters to disperse, otherwise force may be used.

Protests against the Hong Kong and mainland Chinese governments swelled last year, and Beijing sought to clamp down on anti-government sentiment in the city with a national security law that took effect Jun 30.

COMMENTARY: Hong Kong’s future clearly lies with China

Police officers extinguish a fire in Hong Kong, Oct 1, 2020. (Photo: AP/Kin Cheung) Police officers spray fire extinguisher as pro-democracy activists burn a letter near a flag raising ceremony in Hong Kong, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 to mark the China's National Day. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Activists are surrounded by police officers as they march toward a flag raising ceremony in Hong Kong, Oct 1, 2020. (Photo: AP/Kin Cheung)

The law outlaws subversive, secessionist, and terrorist activity in Hong Kong, as well as collusion with foreign powers to interfere in the city's internal affairs. The US and Britain accuse China of infringing on the city’s freedoms, and the US has imposed sanctions on government officials in Hong Kong and China over the law.

Earlier in the day, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam attended a flag raising ceremony with other senior Hong Kong and mainland officials in an exhibition centre surrounded by police and security barriers.

READ: Is democracy in Hong Kong forever blunted?

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam attends a flag raising ceremony at the Golden Bauhinia Square to mark the 71st anniversary of Chinese National day in Hong Kong, Oct 1, 2020. (Photo: AP/Vincent Yu) Hong Kong China National Day
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam attends a flag raising ceremony at the Golden Bauhinia Square to mark the 71st anniversary of Chinese National day in Hong Kong, Oct 1, 2020. (Photo: AP/Vincent Yu) Hong Kong China National Day

"Over the past three months, the plain truth is, and it is obvious to see, that stability has been restored to society while national security has been safeguarded, and our people can continue to enjoy their basic rights and freedoms," Lam said.

Lam also accused some foreign governments of holding “double standards” and levelling unjustified accusations against the authorities who implement the new law.

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