Home Current News Thousands Begin Dispersing After Rainy Rally: Hong Kong Update

Thousands Begin Dispersing After Rainy Rally: Hong Kong Update


Thousands Begin Dispersing After Rainy Rally: Hong Kong Update(Bloomberg) — Tens of thousands of Hong Kong protesters defied a torrential downpour and gathered in centrally located Victoria Park for the weekend’s major rally, after two nights of demonstrations ended peacefully and without police firing tear gas.Sunday’s rally was organized by the Civil Human Rights Front, which said more than 1.7 million people turned out. That would make it one of the biggest demonstrations yet. The police, which confined demonstrators to the park, didn’t provide a crowd estimate. The protests began on June 9 over a bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China but have morphed into broader criticism of Chinese rule over the financial hub.Thousands of pro- and anti-government supporters came out on Saturday in rival demonstrations that expressed support for Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s administration on one side, and criticized her and police actions in another. China urged Hong Kong to punish demonstrators who break the law, after they massed at the city’s international airport and forced its closure last week.There is a growing list of demands made by various groups and directed at the government to address. One rally on Saturday called for curbs on visitors from China, while a planned gathering that was later canceled wanted to highlight the impact of tear gas used by police on animals.Key Developments:Tens of thousands gather peacefully for rainy afternoon rally in central Victoria Park and began dispersing by early evening. The Civil Human Rights Front put attendance at 1.7 million.Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan warned city should brace for an “economic typhoon” due to social unrest and the U.S.-China trade war.Here’s the latest (all times local):Crowds Begin Leaving (Sunday 6.22 p.m.)As the rain poured down through the afternoon, people stood sentry under a sea of umbrellas. By early evening, Victoria Park thinned out as thousands of people began dispersing. Crowds at the Times Square shopping center waited peacefully to reach Causeway Bay metro station. ‘Race against time’ (Sunday 4.45 p.m.)One protester in Sunday’s Victoria Park rally, 73-year-old retiree Tan Shu Huay, said protesters were mindful of trying to prevent violence but time was running out for Hong Kong people to fight for their rights.“We’re using peaceful and rational marches to curb police violence. The most important thing now is to get democracy,” Tan said. “As long as we’re not at the 50-year mark of one country, two systems, Hong Kongers are racing against time to fight for and preserve our freedoms even after 2047.”“I hope our friends in mainland China will be inspired by us and understand the importance of democracy and human rights, and come to fight and enjoy these freedoms together,” he said.Rain, what rain? (Sunday 4 p.m.)Protesters in Victoria Park ignored the driving rain and dark skies as they took cover in a multicolored shield of umbrellas. People exited the venue and made their way toward the train station in line with organizers’ requests to make space for throngs waiting to get into the rally.Economic Typhoon Signal 3 raised (Sunday)Hong Kong should brace for an “economic typhoon” because of social unrest and the U.S.-China trade war, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in a blog post Sunday. He likened current economic conditions to a Signal 3 cyclone warning and said that the city could suffer a direct hit.Park rally (Sunday 1.30 p.m.)People poured into Victoria Park in Causeway Bay in orderly queues snaking around the site hours before the rally was scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Organizers said they would try to ensure the gathering went off peacefully and that the park wasn’t overcrowded.“We will be totally peaceful today but it depends on how the police react,” said Bonnie Leung, a vice convener of the Civil Human Rights Front. “Police have imposed a lot of unnecessary conditions, so we don’t have a march but we have a large number of people which cannot be contained in this Victoria Park. Our legislators will lead the crowd to hopefully peacefully leave the park so that more people can come inside.”‘Return to Reason’ (Sunday 11 a.m.)Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung said violence must stop immediately to solve problems facing the city. While protesters say their “extreme actions” are to strive for a better future, the situation needs to “return to reason” before steps that can be taken to achieve that, he said.“Destruction is easy and construction is difficult,” Cheung said in a blog post on Sunday. Violent acts during protests “have seriously affected and damaged the lives of the people, disrupted social order, impacted the rule of law in Hong Kong and the moral bottom line, and hit Hong Kong’s international image.”An Early Night (Saturday 8 p.m)Protesters dispersed after some clashes with police, and the day ended without the use of tear gas for the first time in weeks.Eggs and laser beams (Saturday 7 p.m.)Hong Kong police said a “large group of protesters” who surrounded its station in Mong Kok posed a threat to its officers at the scene. Some demonstrators were seen aiming laser beams at the police officers, and pelting eggs at the station.Police in riot gear cleared the area around the station of protesters.Pro-China rally (Saturday 5 p.m.)Tens of thousands joined a pro-government rally in Tamar Park, Admiralty, filling the space adjacent to the central government offices. “Support the motherland, support one country two systems; anti-violence, save Hong Kong,” they chanted. Organizers estimated the crowd size at 476,000, while the police said it was around 108,000, broadcasters reported.China calls for punishment (Saturday 4.30 p.m.)Protesters who have broken laws must be punished accordingly, You Wenze, spokesman for China’s National People’s Congress Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview with state TV Saturday. Some protesters have challenged the one-China principle, You said.“There’s no majesty in laws if breaking laws can go unpunished,” said You, whose committee is a panel of China’s legislature that crafted the Basic Law of Hong Kong — its mini constitution.Pro-China crowd in Sydney (Saturday 2:30 p.m.)Demonstrations are taking place in hubs across the world this weekend, including San Francisco’s Embarcadero Plaza to London’s Trafalgar Square and cities in Canada, Australia, Germany and Taiwan.In Sydney, hundreds of China supporters draped in the red national flag protested against “selfish” Hong Kong demonstrators. They marched down Sydney’s George Street in the central business district, chanting “One China” and “We support Hong Kong police.”“We support Hong Kong, this is why we are here,” said Jonah Zhu, who hails from the Chinese city of Guangzhou and is studying teaching in Sydney. Protesters “are destroying the Hong Kong economy, they’re trying to block the airport, they are being selfish.”Kowloon rally (Saturday 3.30 p.m.)Thousands set off from a park in west Kowloon, extended the list of demands to include a call for a limit to the number of tourists from mainland China.“Although we do not forget the five demands of the Hong Kong people themselves, the main demand of this rally would be to set a capped number on mainland Chinese tourists,” said Timothy Lee, a community officer in Kowloon who organized the march. “We call upon the police to remain restrained and calm at all times.”Teachers on the streets (Saturday 11.30 a.m.)Thousands of teachers gathered in Chater Garden in pelting rain and an amber rainstorm warning from Hong Kong Observatory. The educators marched to Government House, Lam’s official residence, as the weather cleared. They tied white ribbons to the railings around the residence and then moved on to make way for arriving protesters.At least 22,000 people took part in the demonstration, Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union president Fung Wai-wah said, while police estimated that there were 8,300 protesters in the march at its peak.–With assistance from Justin Chin, Natalie Lung and Sybilla Gross.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Karen Leigh in Hong Kong at kleigh4@bloomberg.net;Shawna Kwan in Hong Kong at wkwan35@bloomberg.net;Aaron Mc Nicholas in Hong Kong at amcnicholas2@bloomberg.net;Jinshan Hong in Hong Kong at jhong214@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, ;Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Stanley JamesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.