Hong Kong in flames as protesters launch MOLOTOV COCKTAILS at cops and burn barricades – The Sun

HONG Kong was engulfed in flames tonight as protesters defying a ban on marching hurled Molotov cocktails as they stepped up clashes with riot cops.

Earlier police fired blue dye out of water cannons at demonstrators to mark them out — but this did nothing to dampen the fury that's bringing the Chinese-ruled city to brink of civil war.



Pro-democracy protesters threw petrol bombs and bricks dug up from pathways as police fired round after round of tear gas, forcing protesters to take cover behind umbrellas.

The water cannon unleashed blue-dyed water to make it easier for police to identify and punish protesters later on.

But front-line demonstrators refused to be cowered as riot police massed in the Admiralty district only to be met by fire bombs thrown from flyovers.

Others shone blue and green lasers at police lines to blind and confuse.

In the Wanchai bar and restaurant district, police fought running battles with protesters, beating them with truncheons.

Several were later arrested.






Protests have gripped Hong Kong since June 2019, sparked by highly controversial legislation to extradite those convicted of crimes to mainland China  and Taiwan.

That bill has been shelved for now – but the protests have mushroomed into a broader backlash against the government amid fears of the growing control of China's Communist party.

The protests, which at one point blocked three key roads, came on the fifth anniversary of a decision by China to curtail democratic reforms and rule out universal suffrage in Hong Kong, a former British colony that was returned to China in 1997.

The news.gov.hk website said: "The government today said rashly embarking on political reform again will further polarise society, which is an irresponsible act.

"It noted any discussions on constitutional development have to be premised on the legal basis, and be conducted under a peaceful atmosphere with mutual trust in a pragmatic manner."

The People's Liberation Army on Thursday rotated its troops in Hong Kong in what it said was a routine operation.

Their Hong Kong HQ was the former base of the British military garrison.

Thousands took to the streets of the Asian financial hub for a largely peaceful, meandering rally in the afternoon rain.



Many of them joined a "Christian march" from Wanchai and congregated next to the Legislative Council, stormed by activists in an earlier protest.

Other protesters, many wearing black and face masks, marched in the Causeway Bay shopping district.

The crowds grew after dusk in Wanchai, where demonstrators built roadblocks and banged iron sticks.

Firemen battled a huge blaze outside a Methodist church in the main Hennessy Road where water cannon moved in.

There were also standoffs in North Point and Fortress Hill, to the east of Causeway Bay, and tear gas was fired against protesters over the harbour in Tsim Sha Tsui.

MONTHS OF UNREST

The protests have gone on for three months, sometimes turning violent, and have targeted the airport, the legislature and the Liaison Office, the symbol of Chinese rule.

"Hong Kong has religious freedom," said Sally Yeung, 27, a Christian.

"…If they prosecute us simply because we are praying, they infringe our religious freedom."

I feel it's my duty to fight for democracy. Maybe we win, maybe we lose. But we fight.

Hovering under an umbrella outside the government offices, Eric, a 22-year-old student, said telling people not to protest was like telling them not to breathe.

"I feel it's my duty to fight for democracy. Maybe we win, maybe we lose. But we fight."

Police erected water-filled plastic barriers around key government buildings, and two water cannon, used briefly for the first time last weekend, were at the ready near the Liaison Office, still daubed with graffiti from an earlier protest.

'BE LIKE WATER'

Police arrested a number of prominent pro-democracy activists and three lawmakers on Friday, seeking to rein in a movement that began with anger over planned legislation allowing extraditions to mainland China, where courts are controlled by the ruling Communist Party.

It soon broadened into calls for democracy amid fears China is squeezing Hong Kong's freedoms.

But the latest protests have no leaders.

The slogan is "be like water", meaning be flexible.

Marchers on Saturday were marching here and there, wherever streets took them, communicating with different hand signals and chanting "stand with Hong Kong" and "fight for freedom".






China denies the charge of meddling in Hong Kong, which it says is an internal affair.

It has denounced the protests and warned of the damage to the economy.

China is eager to quell the unrest before the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1 but protesters vandalised a long red banner celebrating the event to cheers from the crowd.

'FOREIGN INTERFERENCE'

Beijing has also accused foreign powers, particularly the United States and Britain, of fomenting the demonstrations and warned against foreign interference.

Hong Kong returned to China under a "one country, two systems" formula that allows it to keep freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, like the freedom to protest and an independent legal system.

There have been frequent clashes between protesters and police, who have often fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds, amid accusations of excessive force.

"A lot of people from the outside think it is the police who escalate (the violence) first," a police officer told a media briefing. "This is not true."

An off-duty policeman was attacked late on Friday night by three unidentified men with a knife in the Kwai Chung container port area, suffering wounds to his limbs and back, police said.

With protesters and authorities locked in an impasse and Hong Kong facing its first recession in a decade, speculation has grown that the city government may impose emergency laws, giving it extra powers over detentions, censorship and curfews.

Lawmaker Fernando Cheung said the arrests of the three legislators were probably aimed at causing more anger and chaos to justify the use of emergency laws.

What is happening in Hong Kong and why?

Protests have gripped Hong Kong since June 2019, sparked by highly controversial legislation.

If passed, the bill would give local authorities the right to detain and extradite people who are wanted in countries or territories Hong Kong does not have agreements with – which includes mainland China and Taiwan.

That bill has been shelved for now – but the protests have evolved against the government amid fears of the growing control of China's Communist party.

Protesters also believe their leader should be elected in a more democratic way that reflects the preference of the voters.

The chief executive, Carrie Lam, is currently elected by a 1,200-member election committee – a mostly pro-Beijing body chosen by just six per cent of eligible voters.

The protesters demands are the resignation of the city's leader, Carrie Lam, an amnesty for those arrested and a permanent withdrawal of the bill.

Hong Kong, a former British colony in south eastern China, has long enjoyed a special status under the principal "one country, two systems".

The Basic Law dictates it will retain its common law and capitalist system for 50 years after the handover in 1997.

Hong Kong handover

Hong Kong became a British colony with the end of the First Opium War in 1842.

The British fought the war to preserve the right of the East India Company to sell opium into mainland China.

The establishment of the colony gave Britain control over a number of ports to which foreign merchants could deliver goods.

Britain obtained a 99-year lease for the territory in 1898, and relinquished control when that lease expired in 1997.

Hong Kong now operates as a semi-autonomous territory, with control over its own trade, tax, and immigration policy.

Under the terms of the 1997 handover, that status is protected until 2047.

What happens after then is currently undecided, but opponents of the Beijing government fear that China will seek to gain control of the territory.








Source: Read Full Article