Hong Kong protests: A wrap of the weekend's anti-government demonstrations in Central and Sheung Shui

South China Morning Post

While Sunday's events were peaceful, Saturday's protests against parallel traders from mainland China ended in pepper spray and 15 arrests

South China Morning Post |

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Anti-government protesters write slogans on a giant black banner in Edinburgh Place.

Despite the pouring rain, hundreds of anti-government protesters gathered on Sunday, pledging to continue a social movement that has lasted nearly seven months.

The organiser estimated about 4,000 people attended the authorised rally in Central, while police put the turnout at 500 at its peak.

Rallies planned for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day

The assembly took place ahead of a march by the Civil Human Rights Front on New Year’s Day to press the government to meet the core demands of protesters. The front, an umbrella organisation of pro-democracy groups that has arranged some of the campaign’s key protests, received a letter of no objection from police on Sunday for the march from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to Chater Road in Central. Police said they reserved the right to end the march if public order was threatened.

In its application, the front estimated at least 32,000 people would attend.

On Sunday, the usual chants of “five demands, not one less”, “disband Hong Kong police” and “Hongkongers, revenge!” were once again loudly heard in Central, as protesters attended the assembly at Edinburgh Place.

They also rolled out a giant black banner that marked the key events in the first six months of protests. 

An eight-year-old, who gave her name as Hailey, wrote on the banner: “Hongkongers revenge, Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.”

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered on Sunday in the rain to pledge they will continue to fight for the five demands of the protest movement.
Photo: SCMP / Winson Wong

Hailey and her mother said they had attended mass demonstrations together since June 9, when an estimated 1 million protesters took to the streets against Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s controversial bill.

“She knows a lot about the protests because of news live-streaming,” Hailey’s mother said. “Unless she has to do homework or study for exams, we have joined peaceful protests to support the anti-government movement.”

Hong Kong police admit 'inappropriate' behaviour by police officer

Meanwhile, it was back to business as usual in the border town of Sheung Shui, a day after at least 15 people were arrested in a protest attended by about 300 against so-called parallel traders and shoppers from mainland China.

Anti-government protesters and localists have long railed against the influx of parallel traders – those who buy tax-free goods in Hong Kong in bulk and resell them on the mainland to turn a profit – and shoppers from across the border, which they said had led to crowded streets, a shortage of groceries and daily necessities and the deterioration of living standards in the community.

Anti-government protestors stages a 'shopping' protest at the Landmark North shopping mall in Sheung Shui.
Photo: SCMP / Winson Wong

At 2.30pm, many mainland shoppers with suitcases were seen at Sheung Shui MTR station on their way home – heading back before 3pm, the time the protest started on Saturday.

Dozens of riot police were seen on footbridges in the town. A 12-year-old boy was stopped and searched by riot police officers at about 3.15pm and later let go.

Police freeze more than HK$70 million raised to help protesters 

An employee, surnamed Wong, at an outdoor products store in Landmark North, the shopping centre that protesters targeted on Saturday, said although business in December had slightly improved compared to recent months, overall sales had dropped by more than 20 per cent year on year.

“If the general atmosphere, including social issues, protests and other factors, do not change, sales are expected to further drop next year, especially after the Lunar New Year,” she said.