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PROTEST

Hong Kong protesters defy China in weekend rally

Anti-government protestors on the streets of Hong Kong. The umbrellas are used as protection against police water cannon and tear-gas canisters.
Anti-government protestors on the streets of Hong Kong. The umbrellas are used as protection against police water cannon and tear-gas canisters. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Anti-government protesters in Hong Kong plan to hold a mass rally later Saturday as they face down increasingly stern warnings from China over weeks-long unrest that has plunged the city into crisis.

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The semi-autonomous southern Chinese financial hub has seen two months of protests and clashes triggered by opposition to a planned extradition law that quickly evolved into a wider movement for democratic reforms.

Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing this week signalled a hardening stance, with the arrests of dozens of protesters, and the Chinese military saying it was ready to quell the "intolerable" unrest if requested.

Protesters have remained unyielding, vowing to hold multiple rallies and marches throughout the weekend and into next week, sending tensions soaring once more.

The first rally is expected to take place in the densely populated suburb of Mongkok, which has previously seen clashes between police and demonstrators.

Police initially denied activists permission to march through the neighbourhood but later allowed the protest after an appeal.

Two marches are also planned for Sunday -- one on Hong Kong island and the other in the Tseung Kwan O district -- as well as a city-wide strike on Monday and rallies in seven locations.

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