Hong Kong police move in to break up shopping mall protest clashes

Hong Kong police move in to break up shopping mall protest clashes

Hong Kong mall scuffle Sep 14
Scuffles at a Hong Kong shopping mall on Sep 14, 2019 between pro-China protesters and those denouncing perceived Chinese meddling. (Image: Reuters)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong police moved in to break up scuffles on Saturday (Sep 14) between pro-China protesters and those denouncing perceived Chinese meddling, in and around a shopping mall.

Videos showed protesters at at Amoy Plaza in the densely packed Kowloon district waving Chinese flags and chanting slogans.

They chanted "Support the police" and "China, add oil", adapting a line used by anti-Hong Kong government protesters and loosely meaning: "China, keep your strength up".

"Hong Kong is China," one woman shouted at angry passers-by who shouted obscenities in return in an angry pushing and pulling standoff.

hk mall protest sept 14
A protester is detained at at Amoy Plaza on Sep 14, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Jorge Silva)

hk protest mall sep 14
A protester is detained by police on Sep 14, 2019 at Amoy Plaza in the densely packed Kowloon district. (Photo: Reuters/Jorge Silva)

The clashes spilled out on to the streets, with each confrontation captured by dozens of media and onlookers on their smart phones. Police detained several people.

Fights have begun breaking out with increased frequency after anti-government supporters began holding impromptu singalongs of a popular protest anthem - and as pro-Beijing supporters held rival gatherings to sing China's national anthem.

In the district of Fortress Hill on Saturday, a group of men, many waving Chinese flags and wearing blue t-shirts declaring "I love HK police", attacked people perceived to be anti-government protesters.

Multiple videos posted online showed the group of men assaulting largely younger victims with large flags on poles - and with punches and kicks - as terrified onlookers ran away.

Hong Kong police did not respond to a request for comment on the incident.

Fortress Hill is next to North Point, an area of the city where similar mob attacks by government supporters have occurred this summer and which has long been a bastion of pro-Beijing sentiment.

Shortly before the assaults, the men were filmed tearing down post-it notes and posters on a nearby "Lennon Wall", pro-democracy billboards which have sprung up across the city.

Within hours, the wall was back up as crowds put up new slogans and messages.

"It makes me so angry," a 37-year-old local anti-government protester, who gave her first name as Ed, told AFP.

"These walls are a form of emotional support, it shows the movement is still alive. But even if they destroy it, we will just build it again."

Protesters complaining about perceived Chinese meddling in the former British colony came out in their hundreds across the territory on Friday, singing and chanting on the Mid-Autumn Festival, in contrast to the violence of many previous weekends when police have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.

READ: Hong Kong hills shine with protest lights in Mid-Autumn Festival rally

On Sunday, protesters plan to gather outside the British Consulate on Sunday to demand that China honours a Sino-British Joint Declaration that was signed in 1984, laying out the former British colony's future after its return to China in 1997.

The spark for the anti-government protests was a now-withdrawn extradition Bill and concerns that Beijing is eroding civil liberties, but many young protesters are also angry about sky-high living costs and a lack of job prospects.

READ: Carrie Lam regrets foreign interference in Hong Kong's affairs, says more violence will not solve social issues

The Bill would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts, but the protests have now broadened into calls for greater democracy.

Hong Kong returned to China under a "one country, two systems" formula that guarantees freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland - including a much-cherished independent legal system.

China says Hong Kong is now its internal affair. It says it is committed to the "one country, two systems" arrangement and denies meddling in Hong Kong's affairs.

China is eager to quell the unrest before the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on Oct 1. It has accused foreign powers, particularly the United States and Britain, of fomenting the unrest. 

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

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Source: Agencies/gs

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