Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 January 2020

Hong Kong march takes protests to train station linking territory to China

The rally was the first major large-scale protest since last Monday's unprecedented storming of parliament

Anti-extradition bill protesters take part in a march to West Kowloon railway station in Hong Kong, China, 07 July 2019. EPA
Anti-extradition bill protesters take part in a march to West Kowloon railway station in Hong Kong, China, 07 July 2019. EPA

Thousands of protesters marched to a railway station in Hong Kong that links the territory to China on Sunday, the latest in a series of rallies over a planned extradition bill that have rocked the former British colony.

It was the first major protest in the territory since young, masked protesters stormed parliament on Monday.

The bill has since been postponed in response to the intense backlash but that has done little to quell public anger, which has evolved into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous city.

On Sunday, thousands snaked their way through streets in the harbourfront district of Tsim Sha Tsui, an area popular with Chinese tourists.

Organisers have billed the march as an opportunity to explain to mainlanders in the city 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.

The station is controversial because it partly allows China to deal with immigration and customs despite it lying kilometres from the Chinese border. The use of the terminus by Beijing has given rise to criticism that the territory has given part of the island away to China.

Police gave permission for the rally to go ahead but said officers would step in if anyone attempted to storm the station.

Under Hong Kong's mini-constitution China's national laws do not apply to the city apart from in limited areas, including defence.

Protesters also are demanding an independent investigation into a crackdown on demonstrations June 12 in which officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds blocking major city streets. The tactics used were harsher than usual for Hong Kong, which police have said were justified after some protesters turned violent. Dozens were injured in the clashes, both protesters and police.

The protesters, angry with the territory's Chief Executive Carrie Lam, are also calling for a direct election of Hong Kong's leader. Ms Lam was chosen by an elite committee of mainly pro-Beijing electors.

Updated: July 7, 2019 04:04 PM