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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 23 October, 2019
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Hong Kong protesters march to US consulate to increase pressure on Beijing

Millions of Hong Kongers have protested in the past three months.

Protesters in Hong Kong on 8 September.
Protesters in Hong Kong on 8 September.
Image: UPI/PA Images

PRO-DEMOCRACY ACTIVISTS in Hong Kong marched to the United States consulate yesterday in a bid to ramp up international pressure on Beijing.

Some extreme protesters clashed with riot police during the march. Millions have demonstrated over the last 14 weeks in the biggest challenge to China’s rule since the city’s handover from Britain in 1997.

The protests were lit by a now-withdrawn plan to allow extraditions to the mainland China, seen by opponents as the latest move by the country to reduce the democratic freedoms in Hong Kong. 

After Beijing and city leaders took a hard line, the movement snowballed into a broader campaign calling for greater democracy, police accountability and an amnesty for those arrested.

Yesterday’s protest featured another massive turnout for a movement that has gripped the semi-autonomous territory and put it into a political crisis. 

Dense crowds of protesters spent hours slowly filing past Washington’s consulate in the tropical heat. Many waved US flags, some sang the Star Spangled Banner and others held signs calling on President Donald Trump to “liberate” Hong Kong. 

In chants and speeches, the protesters called on the US to pressure Beijing to meet their demands and for Congress to pass a recently proposed bill that expresses support for the protest.

The main daytime rally passed off peacefully but riot police chased groups of hardcore protesters who blocked roads, vandalised nearby subway stations and set makeshift barricades on fire in the evening. 

One fire burned at an entrance to the subway in the corporate district of Central, where a protester also smashed the station’s exterior glass.

In the shopping area of Causeway Bay, officers fired tear gas outside another subway station. 

While some American politicians on both sides of the aisle have expressed support for the democratic goals of the protesters, the Trump administration has maintained a more hands-off approach while it fights a trade war with China.

Trump has called for a peaceful resolution to the political crisis and urged China against escalating with a violent crackdown, but he has also said it is up to Beijing to handle the protests.

One democracy activist, Joshua Wong, was released from custody after a mistake was made in his bail conditions, his party confirmed. 

The 22-year-old was among multiple prominent democracy advocates who were detained late last month in a roundup by police.

He was accused of “inciting others to take part in unauthorised assembly” among other charges and later released on bail.

Wong said he was detained at Hong Kong airport for “breaching bail conditions” after returning from Taiwan and as he then tried to make another overseas trip to Germany.

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