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Occupy Central

Giant ‘safeguard Hong Kong’ banner appears on Lion Rock but source and motive unknown

Stunt has been popular since 2014 Occupy movement, and comes amid recent tensions over joint checkpoint arrangement

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 2:41pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 11:07pm

A giant yellow banner widely seen during the Occupy pro-democracy movement in 2014 and with the words “safeguard Hong Kong” reappeared on the iconic Lion Rock on Saturday.

The sign – measuring about 30 metres by three metres – was spotted on the Kowloon cliff in the morning, badly anchored to the rock, with one end flapping in the wind.

The motive and source behind the banner are unknown, but the incident comes amid a heated debate in the city over an approved joint checkpoint arrangement for the terminus of the cross-border high-speed rail link to Guangzhou.

The plan will allow national legislation to be enforced on Hong Kong soil, sparking controversy and concern over what is perceived as Beijing’s growing influence on the city.

At 7.30am, police were notified of the banner and referred the case to the Fire Services Department and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

A team of firefighters arrived by helicopter and were seen abseiling down to the site, which is inside a country park.

They successfully took down the banner at around 11am.

According to authorities, it is illegal to display political material in country parks.

No arrests have been made over the case.

Similar banner stunts have been performed by advocates at least a dozen times since 2014 when the 79-day Occupy movement, a civil disobedience campaign for greater democracy, brought parts of the city to a standstill.

One of the groups even documented the process in a video uploaded to YouTube.

Other banners calling for universal suffrage have been occasionally spotted across the city.

Lion Rock, a 495m peak facing the Kowloon peninsula, has been a popular site for such banners for a number of reasons. Its south-facing cliff is visible from large parts of Kowloon and even from Hong Kong Island. The place is also a symbol of the city’s “can-do spirit” of working together and overcoming the odds.

The frequency of banner stunts at the site has prompted police to camp there and stop activists from hanging such material on politically sensitive occasions, such as during the visits of state leaders.