Hong Kong Protesters Refine Tactics Amid Latest Violence
By Erin Hale August 4, 2019
Hong Kong marchers staged sometimes violent protests on multiple fronts Sunday night, introducing their latest tactic to evade riot police and tear gas as the demonstrations against a controversial extradition bill entered their ninth consecutive week.
Scrambling from the New Territories to Hong Kong island and then back across the harbor to northern Kowloon, the protesters demonstrated their hallmark levels of organization and decentralized decision-making over social media.
In a now familiar formula, scores of protesters would arrive at a location and build barricades where they would remain until riot police arrived. A minority would stay behind and face tear gas as scores escaped through the public transit network to a new location.
Crowding into the subway system, protesters continually chanted slogans of encouragement like the Chinese expression "Add oil!" They also urged bystanders to participate in a planned general strike on Monday.
The fast-moving protest moved from a police station in the New Territories, where masked demonstrators threw bricks and smashed windows, to the streets near Beijing's government headquarters in Hong Kong and then to the shopping district of Causeway Bay.
Protesters then headed back to Wong Tai Sin, the site of intense police clashes earlier this weekend, where more tear gas and violence were expected to continue well into the night.
Sunday's protests are the latest in nearly nine weeks of demonstrations against the government, which earlier this summer tried and failed to push a bill through its semi-democratic legislature that would have allowed criminals to be extradited to mainland China.
The bill sparked unprecedented anger and mistrust toward the Hong Kong government, which many believe is caving in to Chinese influence in spite of Beijing's promise to respect autonomy for the former British colony until 2047.
Ahead of Monday's general strike, China's central Xinhua news agency published the sharpest warning yet that a crackdown could be imminent. Blaming the violence on "ugly forces," the commentary said the Beijing government "will not sit idly by and let this situation continue."
Even after the extradition bill was suspended, the demonstrators remain angry over the government's heavy-handed use of riot police to respond to protests, and its failure to formally withdraw the bill or meet other demands.
At a march earlier on Sunday afternoon through the New Territories, protester Chan Wing-shuen told VOA the protests would continue until the marchers' demands are met.
"The government still didn't respond to us and we hope that we have a long-term protest in order to get what we want and what we deserve to have," she said, adding that many citizens were angered at the lack of response to the largest street protests in Hong Kong's history.
Chan's comments were echoed over the course of the weekend by many protesters, who expressed feelings of anger and alienation over the behavior of the government and police.
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