Hong Kong residents target Beijing-controlled railway station
Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters rallied outside a controversial train station linking the territory to the Chinese mainland on Sunday. It was the latest mass show of anger as activists try to keep pressure on the city's pro-Beijing leaders.
The rally was the first major large-scale protest since last Monday's unprecedented storming of parliament by largely young protesters.
That incident capped a month of huge demonstrations involving violent confrontations with police. The protests were triggered by amendments to a law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.
The bill has since been postponed in an attempt to calm public sentiment, but to no avail.
Protests continued on Sunday with some 230,000 people (according to organisers) finding their way through streets in the harbour-front district of Tsim Sha Tsui, an area popular with Chinese tourists. Police said 56,000 turned out at the protest's peak.
The march was aimed to explain to mainlanders, who arrive into Hong Kong by train, what their protest movement is about.
Inside China, where news and information are heavily censored, the Hong Kong protests have been portrayed as a primarily violent, foreign-funded plot to destabilise the motherland, not a mass popular movement over Beijing's increased shadow over the semi-autonomous hub.
"We want to show tourists, including mainland China tourists what is happening in Hong Kong and we hope they can take this concept back to China," Eddison Ng, an 18-year-old demonstrator, told AFP.
The terminus is controversial because Chinese law operates in the parts of the station with mainlaind border police dealing with immigration and customs, even though West Kowloon is kilometres from the border.
As a result of internet surveillance and censorship in mainland China, the general public is not aware of all the details surrounding the protests, apart from the one-sided comments issued by the state-controlled press.
State-run Xinhua news agency, just reported, after last weeks occupation of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council that it was “shocked, indignant and strongly condemned” the vandalising of the parliament building.
Beijing asked Hong Kong to investigate the “criminal responsibility of violent offenders” for “serious illegal actions”. Protesters could face up to 10 years in prison if prosecuted and convicted for rioting.
“Some extreme elements used excessive violence to storm the legislature building and carried out a series of large-scale assaults. This is shocking, heartbreaking and angering,” the statement said. “Their violent acts are an extreme challenge to Hong Kong’s rule of law and seriously undermined Hong Kong’s peace and stability. It is totally intolerable.”
By talking to mainland tourists coming to Hong Kong, residents hope to show them another another side of the coin.
[Since 1997, Hong Kong is part of China, after having been a British colony for 150 years. Under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, it would be incorporated in China under structure called “One Country-Two Systems,” keeping its own kapitalist and semi-democratic system. Over the last years, residents increasingly reproach Beijing that it doesn’t stick to the deal.]
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