HONG KONG: Hong Kong police fired tear gas and a water cannon on Saturday (Sep 28) to disperse anti-government protesters who threw rocks, broke windows and blocked a key road near the local headquarters of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA).
Police officers positioned at the entrance of the Central Government Complex used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowds of people gathered outside.
A series of protests in the Chinese-ruled city for and against Communist Party rulers in Beijing is planned ahead of the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic on Tuesday, including at the consulate of former colonial power Britain.
The protesters, many dressed all in black and wearing masks, took cover under umbrellas from the water cannon and fled after the demonstrations had taken a familiar turn into clashes with police as they have done regularly over more than three months.
Police fired blue water, used in other countries to help identify offenders, as protesters regrouped a short distance away.
They had smashed windows of government offices and tried to break in, shouting obscenities and daubing slogans on shop-fronts. They had also shone lasers at a helicopter hovering overhead.
"At around 7.30pm, a large group of protesters (blocked) the carriageways in Harcourt Road, seriously paralysing the traffic," Hong Kong police said.
"Some violent protesters have damaged properties outside Central Government Complex and aimed laser beams at a helicopter, posing a serious threat to the safety of everyone at scene.
"Police warn the protesters to stop all illegal acts at once. Police appeal to members of the public to avoid travelling to the area."
READ: Hong Kong protesters rebuild Lennon Walls ahead of China National Day
At 9pm, a Hong Kong government spokesman said the community will need to "engage in dialogue".
"Universal suffrage of 'one person, one vote' for selecting the Chief Executive and electing all members of the Legislative Council is enshrined as an ultimate aim in the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People's Republic of China," the spokesman added.
"To achieve this aim, the community needs to engage in dialogues, premised on the legal basis and under a peaceful atmosphere with mutual trust, with a view to narrowing differences and attaining a consensus agreeable to all sides."
The government released a statement about 11.30pm, condemning the "violent and vandalistic acts" on Saturday.
"The radical protesters blocked roads, vandalised public property and set fires in the vicinity of the Central Government Offices (CGO) as well as attacked the CGO and police officers at the scene with bricks and petrol bombs, disrupting the traffic and damaging the building, jeopardising the safety of the police officers at the scene and seriously breaching the public peace," he added.
Families had gathered at Tamar Park earlier Saturday evening in a protest permitted by the police.
“It’s a special day for Hong Kong protesters. We will stick together to fight for freedom," said Sam, 33, dressed in black and wearing a mask. “Most people think Hong Kong was dying after five years, but many people are still fighting for Hong Kong."
The MTR subway system closed entrances to some stations on Saturday to prevent fresh attacks.
"WE STAND AS ONE"
Britain says it has a legal responsibility to ensure China abides by the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. At the same time, it wants closer trade and investment cooperation with China after it leaves the European Union at the end of October.
Protests were sparked in June by planned legislation, since withdrawn, that would have allowed the extradition of suspected criminals to mainland China. But they have since expanded into a broader movement.
Official festivities for National Day have been scaled back, with authorities keen to avoid embarrassing Beijing just as President Xi Jinping seeks to project an image of national strength and unity.
A series of protests for and against Communist Party rulers in Beijing is planned for the Chinese-ruled city ahead of the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic on Tuesday, including at the consulate of former colonial power Britain.
The Hong Kong building of the Chinese state-owned investment company CITIC, next to the Legislative Council, ran a huge purple LED-lit banner down its front commemorating National Day.