Hong Kong Police Fire Tear Gas At Protesters
Hong Kong police have fired tear gas at protesters as a tenth straight weekend of anti-government demonstrations intensified amid an increasingly aggressive response from the police and Beijing.
Riot police fired volleys of tear gas at crowds of mostly young protesters outside a police station in the working class district of Sham Shui Po on Sunday.
In nearby Cheung Sha Wan, protesters threw objects at police who fired back with tear gas.
The action followed a day of marches by demonstrators of all ages as increasingly violent protests since June have plunged Hong Kong into its most serious crisis in decades, and pose a challenge to the central government in Beijing.
Chants of "Liberate Hong Kong" had earlier echoed through the streets when more than a thousand black-shirted protesters marched, some with their pets, amid a carnival atmosphere.
"We have lived in Hong Kong all our lives and this is the hardest time because the government is not listening to the citizens," said a 63-year-old man surnamed Leung, who was accompanied by his 93-year-old father in a wheelchair.
"All citizens need to stay together. We will always support the children."
Police have shown a growing willingness to quickly clear protesters from the streets - also firing tear gas on Saturday evening - while China has begun applying pressure to the city's corporate giants, including flag carrier Cathay Pacific.
On Sunday, protesters had gathered outside Sham Shui Po police station when the police began firing tear gas, but the activists stood their ground.
The protest movement, which began in response to a now-suspended law that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to stand trial in mainland China, still seems to enjoy broad support.
Thousands of activists also occupied the airport arrivals hall for a third day, while others turned out earlier at a downtown park.
Their demands have grown to include greater democracy and the resignation of the city's leader, Carrie Lam.
"At the beginning, in June, I didn't take it very seriously," said Jason Liu, a 29-year-old arborist who joined a protest in Victoria Park near the city centre.
"But after these two months I really feel it is now or never for us, because in 20 years we won't be able to do anything anymore," he said.
Hong Kong was guaranteed freedoms not granted in mainland China, including an independent judiciary, under a "one country, two systems" formula, when Britain handed it back to China in 1997.
Authorities have arrested more than 600 people since the rallies began in June.
Beijing also opened a new front on Friday by demanding that the city's flagship carrier, corporate giant Cathay Pacific Airways, suspend staff involved in the demonstrations, with the airline later mostly agreeing to do so.
Young people have been at the forefront of the protests, worried about the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong, while also concerned with issues such as wealth disparities in the city.
Residents of all ages joined in protests on Sunday.
"The most frustrating thing is that we didn't ask for more, we only asked to keep what we had," said one man, 49, who gave his name as Jeremy and said he worked in the insurance industry.
"I don't know what's going to happen next, when school starts, or when Christmas comes but they need to know that some of us will never back down and this is how we raise our children as well."