FLASH: A general strike aimed at bringing the city to a halt is planned Monday.
Police fired multiple rounds of tear gas to disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong Sunday after violent clashes a day earlier, and Beijing said it would not let the situation persist.
The Chinese-controlled city, an Asian financial hub, has been rocked by months of protests that began against a proposed bill to allow criminals to be extradited to stand trial in Mainland China and have developed into calls for greater democracy.
Late Sunday, hundreds of masked protesters blocked major roads, spray painted traffic lights, started fires and prevented transport from entering the Cross-Harbour Tunnel linking Hong Kong island and the Kowloon peninsula.
Riot police confronted the protesters, who have adopted flash tactics, shifting quickly from place to place to evade capture and using online platforms such as Telegram to direct hundreds of people.
The government said late Sunday that “blatant violation of law, wanton destruction of public peace and violent attacks on the police” harm Hong Kong’s society and economic livelihood. Such acts had already gone far beyond the limits of peaceful and rational protests, it said in a statement.
After the peaceful demonstrations finished earlier on Sunday, protesters blocked roads in the town of Tseung Kwan O in the New Territories, set up barricades and hurled hard objects including bricks at a police station.
Police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters after a separate rally in the island’s Western district where thousands of people gathered to urge authorities to listen to public demands.
Protesters had begun a march towards China’s Liaison Office which has been a flash-point at previous protests. Anti-extradition bill protesters are seen among the smoke during a protest in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, China,
Late Sunday night, police fired tear gas in the shopping area of Causeway Bay to dispel protesters, forcing stores and popular shopping malls including Times Square to close early.
Police said the protesters were “participating in an unauthorized assembly”, similar to Saturday when they fired multiple tear gas rounds in confrontations with black-clad activists in the Kowloon area.
The protests have become the most serious political crisis in Hong Kong since it returned to Chinese rule 22 years ago after being governed by Britain since Y 1842.
China’s official news agency Xinhua said Sunday: “The central government will not sit idly by and let this situation continue. We firmly believe that Hong Kong will be able to overcome the difficulties and challenges ahead.”