Hundreds of protesters gathered at malls in Hong Kong’s Kowloon and New Territories districts and vandalized a train station before clashing with riot police in Shatin.
The rallies were relatively muted coming after Saturday’s clashes that continued late into the night with protesters throwing petrol bombs and police firing tear gas, and some officers coming under direct attack. Hong Kong anticipates large-scale protests on the October 1 anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Local activists — including protest leader Joshua Wong — testified at a hearing in Washington last week in support of human rights legislation. There’s momentum growing for Congress to take fast action to pressure Beijing to back off any crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators by threatening its special trading status with the US.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 has bipartisan support and would require yearly assessments of whether the Asian financial hub remains sufficiently autonomous from China to justify its unique treatment under American law. The city’s pro-democracy movement, which began over opposition to since-scrapped legislation allowing extraditions to the mainland, is in its fourth month.
Kowloon subway station, a transit hub, was the third to close on Sunday, according to MTR Corp. It came after protesters and riot police clashed in Shatin. Meanwhile, protesters who had gathered at Maritime Square shopping mall, next to the also-closed Tsing Yi station, began leaving the mall after police inside the station moved out of sight.
Both Shatin and Tsing Yi stations were closed by early evening and shutters came down over storefronts at the New Town Plaza mall where protesters had gathered for hours. Some demonstrators vandalized automated MTR ticket machines and others poured liquid on the floor of the mall, which is connected to the subway station. The shopping mall is operated by Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. Protesters jeered as police closed the shutters between Tsing Yi station and the Maritime Square shopping mall. Protesters removed a Chinese national flag outside Shatin City Hall and brought it inside to the mall. Some stepped and spray painted on it, then threw it in the Shing Mun River.
The city’s chief executive spoke at a National Day reception hosted by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, according to a government statement. Lam said Hong Kong has faced grave challenges recently, and that the government would try its best to keep order and safeguard working people’s livelihoods.