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'If we stop now, things will only get worse': More mass protests take place in Hong Kong

Rival pro-democracy and pro-government demonstrations were held in the city today.

Pro-democracy protesters marching in Hong Kong today.
Pro-democracy protesters marching in Hong Kong today.
Image: Kin Cheung/AP/Press Association Images

PRO-DEMOCRACY PROTESTERS marched on one side of Hong Kong’s famous harbour today, while a pro-government rally took place across the water. 

The two demonstrations highlighted the political divide in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, which for 10 weeks has been rocked by protests that show no signs of relenting.

“The government right now doesn’t listen to the people, and the police are too violent,” Bobby Tse, a 76-year-old local man, said of the protests. 

“It didn’t used to be like this. We didn’t have to protest every week. But now even though we have protests every week, the government still gives no response.”

At the pro-government rally, speakers on a stage said they love both Hong Kong and China and asked the protesters why they are afraid of China.

Leo Chen, a 47-year-old driver, said he came to the pro-government protest because he wants peace in his city of 7.4 million people.

“Before, everyone in Hong Kong helped each other, it was very harmonious,” he said. “Now to see it become like this, I’m not happy, so I’ve come out to show a little strength.”

Thousands of teachers 

Earlier today, thousands of teachers marched to the official residence of Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, to show support for the protesters, who have taken to the streets since early June and include many students.

Carrying signs that read ‘protect the next generation’, the teachers tied white ribbons to a metal fence near Government House.

They said the government should answer the protesters’ demands and stop using what they called police violence to disperse demonstrators who have taken over streets and besieged and defaced government buildings.

“We want to protect our students, our youngsters, so teachers are willing to come out and speak for the youngsters, and also, to stand by them so they are not alone,” said Fung Wai-wah, president of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, which organised the march.

The movement’s demands include Lam’s resignation, democratic elections and an independent investigation into police use of force. A rally in Victoria Park tomorrow is being organised by a pro-democracy group that was behind the three demonstrations that have marched through central Hong Kong since June.

“Even though we’re all scared of getting arrested, we have to keep going,” said 31-year-old protester Minnie Lee.

What we are fighting for is democracy and our rights. We’re not doing anything wrong. If we stop now, things will only get worse.

Tensions rose briefly after today’s march, with riot police deployed to chase down a group of pro-democracy protesters they said were assembling illegally outside their station, shining laser pointers and throwing eggs.

Officers formed a line on a nearby street, thumping their batons on their shields before charging.

But by that time, most protesters had already melted away into the city’s densely populated Mong Kok district, leaving officers to face angry local residents, who told them to leave and accused them of being members of crime gangs. The police eventually left without firing tear gas.

Army 

Members of China’s paramilitary People’s Armed Police force have been training this week across the border in Shenzhen, fuelling speculation they could be sent in to suppress the protests.

Officers didn’t appear to hold major drills today, but could be seen doing jumping jacks and stretching inside a sports stadium. Dozens of army vehicles were parked inside and outside the facility.

The Hong Kong police, however, have said they are capable of handling the protests.

“I can tell you we’re confident the police have the capability to maintain law and order,” Yeung Man-pun, commander of the Kowloon City district, said yesterday when asked about the possibility of a deployment of mainland security forces.

Outside of Hong Kong, demonstrations were held in support of both the pro-democracy movement and China.

In Australia, at least 200 protesters descended on Sydney Town Hall, chanting “Long live China” and singing the Chinese national anthem, while a protest in support of the pro-democracy movement continued in Melbourne.

The Melbourne rally turned ugly last night, with police moving in to separate some 100 pro-China protesters from those sympathetic to Hong Kong. Today’s protest was peaceful.

In Taiwan, people held a flash mob demonstration in Taipei, the island’s capital, in support of the Hong Kong protests.

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Associated Press

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