Hong Kong police Saturday fired tear gas in an effort to disperse protesters whose rallies in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory show no signs of subsiding.
Saturday marked the 22nd consecutive weekend of pro-democracy protests in the territory’s streets.
Friday, Shen Chunyaok, the director of the Hong Kong, Macao and Basic Law Commission warned that China “absolutely will not permit any behavior encouraging separatism or endangering national security and will resolutely guard against and contain the interference of foreign powers in the affairs of Hong Kong and Macao and their carrying out acts of separatism, subversion, infiltration and sabotage.”
Eighteen-year-old protester Gordon Tsoi told the French news agency AFP: “The government and the police have been ignoring and suppressing the people’s demands so we need to continue the movement to show them we still want what we are asking for.”
The Asian financial hub has been mired in massive and oftentimes violent protests since June, sparked by a proposed bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. The protests have evolved into demands for full democracy for Hong Kong, an independent inquiry into the possible use of excessive force by police and complete amnesty for all activists arrested during the demonstrations. Masked activists have vandalized businesses and the city subway system, and attacked police with bricks and homemade gasoline bombs.
Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy under the “one government, two systems” arrangement established when China regained control of Hong Kong from Britain in 1997. But political activists and observers say Beijing is slowly tightening its grip on the territory and eroding its basic freedoms.