Hong Kong police arrested five people while dispersing a protest in one of the financial hub’s busiest tourist districts, the latest demonstration triggered by a proposed law that would allow extraditions of criminals to mainland China for the first time.
Thousands of marchers walked through the pedestrian-heavy Tsim Sha Tsui area towards the city’s new high-speed rail station to China.
By evening they had reached the main entrance, which had been closed off by authorities, and began surrounding the building.
The crowd had largely dispersed, but some people — wearing the black shirts that have become the protest movement’s unofficial uniform — occupied Nathan Road in the commercial Mong Kok district, where they were confronted by lines of riot police.
Five people were arrested for assaulting and obstructing a police officer when action was taken to disperse protesters, police said in statement on Monday. Police made repeated warnings to the protesters that they were taking part in unlawful assembly and urged them to leave, it said.
The latest march follows weeks of demonstrations against the proposed extradition legislation. While chief executive Carrie Lam suspended the bill, protesters have continued pushing for its complete withdrawal, Lam’s resignation and other demands.
Further protests are now being planned in neighbourhoods across the city by civilian demonstrators organising themselves online who vow to keep spreading the word to every district of the financial hub until Lam responds to their requests.
That includes using their checkbooks: some are calling for people who hold accounts with the local unit of Bank of China Ltd to pull out thousands of dollars in cash and deposit
it into non-mainland banks if there’s no response from authorities by Friday night.
Ventus Lau, a protest organiser, said more than 230,000 people had joined the rally
on July 7. Police said 56,000 people had come out at the march’s peak, according to Hong Kong broadcaster TVB.
The size of the protest “shows Hongkongers are very determined to fight until the very end,” Lau said.
The end point was intentionally chosen to reach out to mainland travellers using the rail link, according to postings and leaflets distributed by organisers. Some protesters waved flags that flew when Hong Kong was a British colony, while others carried yellow umbrellas, the symbol of the city’s pro-democracy Occupy Central protests in 2014.
It’s not the first time Hong Kong protests have reflected anxiety that mainlanders are overwhelming the city — and driving up the prices of goods for its residents. In 2015, demonstrators in Tuen Men and Tsim Sha Tsui scuffled with police as they rallied against traders who come to the city and purchase products to sell across the border.
Activist Joshua Wong joined the demonstrators and said they hoped to impress on mainland visitors the importance of freedom and human rights.