HONG KONG: A large crowd of democracy activists marched to the US consulate in Hong Kong on Sunday in an attempt to increase international pressure on Beijing after three months of great and sometimes violent protests.
Millions have taken to the streets of Hong Kong in the last 14 weeks in the biggest challenge to the Chinese government since the city was delivered from Britain in 1997.
The protests were triggered by a now scrapped plan to allow extraditions to the continent, described by opponents as the last movement in China to eliminate the unique freedoms of the international financial center.
But after Beijing and the city leaders took a hard line, the movement became a broader campaign demanding greater democracy, police responsibility and an amnesty for those arrested.
The protest on Sunday presented another massive participation by a movement that has taken over the semi-autonomous territory and plunged it into a political crisis.
The protesters spent hours slowly passing the Washington consulate in the tropical heat. Many waved American flags, some sang the Star Spangled Banner, others had posters asking President Donald Trump to "free" Hong Kong.
In songs and speeches they asked the United States to press Beijing to comply with its demands and for Congress to pass a recently proposed bill expressing its support for the protest.
“More than 1,000 protesters have been arrested. We can do nothing but go outside, I feel desperate, "said 30-year-old protester Jenny Chan.
"I think that apart from foreign countries, nobody can really help us."
In what has become a now familiar pattern, the main daytime rally passed peacefully. But at dusk, the riot police chased groups of unconditional protesters who blocked the roads, destroyed nearby subway stations and set fire to improvised barricades.
Hong Kong is an important international business center thanks to the unknown freedoms in the continent under a 50-year agreement signed between China and Britain. But Beijing criticizes any criticism of foreign governments about their management of the city, which says it is an internal problem.
State authorities and media have portrayed the protests as a separatist movement backed by foreign "black hands", primarily targeting their anger at the United States and Britain.
While some American politicians on both sides of the hall have expressed their support for the protesters' democratic goals, the Trump administration has maintained a more direct approach, as it closes the horns with China over trade.
Trump has called for a peaceful solution to the political crisis and urged China not to intensify with violent repression. But he has also said that it is up to Beijing to handle the protests. Washington has rejected China's accusations that it supports the protesters and Beijing has shown little evidence to support its claims.
Posted in Dawn, September 9, 2019