Anti-China protests in Hong Kong turn violent, police intervene

November 6, 2016 6:30 pm

Demonstrators protect themselves with umbrellas during a stand-off with police as protests in against ’s increasing grip on the city escalate on November 6, 2016. (AFP photo)

Police have used pepper spray to stop an escalation in protests against China’s legal intervention in Hong Kong amid a deepening row over whether two pro-independence lawmakers should be barred from the territory’s legislature.
Hundreds of activists rallied outside China’s liaison office in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong on Sunday as some minor scuffles broke out between the protesters and the police.
Witnesses said at least 20 protesters were hit with pepper spray as others tried to shield themselves from the canisters with umbrellas, creating scenes that were reminiscent of the 79-day mass pro-democracy protests on the streets of Hong Kong in 2014.
Protesters chanted slogan against China, saying they will continue the fight for the independence of Hong Kong from Beijing.
“This is about our future,” said a young woman, whose eyes teary from pepper spray.
“We are quite shocked. We just wanted to express our demands at the liaison office,” another protester said.
The escalation in the protest came after activists charged against metal fences set up by police outside the building. Police told the protesters to disperse, warning that they were involved in “unlawful assembly.” Others said some police forces were preparing for a full-blown riot as they were wearing special gear. A street leading to the Chinese office was closed by the protesters. 
People in Hong Kong have protested a decision by China to vet two pro-independence lawmakers who infuriated Beijing last month by explicitly challenging China’s claim of sovereignty over the territory. Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching pledged allegiance to the “Hong Kong nation” and displayed a “Hong Kong is not China” banner during a swearing-in ceremony for the city’s legislative council in October.
The clashes on Sunday came hours after thousands took to the streets in Hong Kong to condemn China’s increasing control over the semi-autonomous region. Reports said around 8,000 people marched to the city’s court of final appeal building and the Chinese liaison office while carrying banners that read, “Chinese law interpretation tramples on Hong Kong people.” Some 4,000 had peacefully gathered near the Chinese office in the afternoon.
A top committee of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, has said that it would use its rarely used power to interpret Hong Kong’s mini constitution, the Basic Law, and to stop both of the newly-elected lawmakers from taking office. A final decision is due on Monday.
Hong Kong, a former British colony and a major global financial hub in Eastern , was handed over to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula. Under the Basic Law, the territory has since enjoyed wide-ranging autonomy, including judicial freedom.
Pro-independence activists are highly opposed to China’s interpretation of Hong Kong’s constitution, something that Beijing has done for four times over the past years. They have warned that a fifth interpretation would deal a “lethal blow” to the city.
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