Tear gas was fired by police to disperse black-clad protestors across Hong Kong on Saturday, November02, after they set fire to metro stations and vandalised shops in some of the worst violence to hit the city in recent weeks.
Police had also used tear gas in a park where thousands of protesters who are angry at what they say has been a heavy-handed police response over five months of anti-government demonstrations, had gathered on a sunny afternoon.
Small groups of masked protesters then fled to the Central business district, through streets lined with banks and top-end jewellery and fashion stores, setting light to ramshackle street barricades and hurling petrol bombs as riot police and water cannon trucks closed in.
Protesters are angry at perceived Chinese meddling with Hong Kong’s freedoms, including its legal system, since the city returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997. China denies the charge.
Among those caught up in the tear gas clouds were rugby fans who had gathered in bars in Wanchai district to watch the World Cup final.
Police made multiple arrests throughout the day. An AFP reporter saw around 100 people being taken away in three coaches after they were detained.
Activists, many wearing now-banned face masks, pulled up metal fencing and used a football goal to build barricades near Victoria park, a traditional venue for rallies and vigils for decades, their actions masked by others holding umbrellas.
“Hong Kong people, resist,” they shouted. “Revolution of our time.”
Many sang the British and US national anthems, waving multi-national flags and a few called for independence, a red line for Communist Party leaders in Beijing who have vowed to “crush the bones” of anyone pursuing such a move.
Government data on Thursday confirmed that Hong Kong slid into recession in the third quarter for the first time since the global financial crisis of 2008. Retail sales fell 18.3 per cent in value in September from a year earlier, an eighth consecutive month of decline.
Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous “special administrative region” of China according to the “one country, two systems” formula under which it returned to Chinese rule. (Source: CNA)