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china and hong kong

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Tear gas has been fired by Hong Kong riot police at an unauthorized protest held by tens of thousands of people to condemn an attack by armed masked men last week.

As a small group of protesters refused to disperse in the northern district of Yuen Long, police fired rubber bullets.

The protest took place where pro-democracy protesters had been attacked by suspected triad gang members.

Police have been accused of turning a blind eye and colluding with the attackers, claims they deny.

There were seven weeks of anti-government and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong sparked by a controversial bill that would have enabled extraditions to mainland China.

The government has since halted the legislation but protesters have demanded its complete withdrawal, as well as an inquiry into police violence, democratic reform, and that Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam resign.

Hong Kong Protests: Hundreds of Demonstrators Storm Parliament Building on Anniversary of Chinese Rule

Hong Kong protests: Schools and banks closed as demonstrators block downtown

Hong Kong clashes near government offices

The July 27 rally had been banned by the police, a highly unusual move in the territory, where protests are usually allowed.

Police say they refused permission because they feared violent clashes between protesters and residents.

The march was planned as a response to last Sunday’s attack, in which about 100 men descended on Yuen Long’s metro station, beating protesters – as well as passersby and journalists – with wooden and metal sticks.

The attack left 45 people injured and was widely blamed on triad gang members. They appeared to target those wearing black, the color people had been told to wear for the protest.

Triads are known to be active in Yuen Long – located in a rural northern district in Hong Kong, near mainland China – and many local villagers have also expressed opposition to the pro-democracy protests.

Tens of thousands defied the police ban and approached Yuen Long on July 27, marching down some of the main roads.

Police observed and filmed the start of the protest, and riot police could be seen on standby.

They said some protesters were holding iron poles and shields, and “even removing fences from roads”.

Some protesters also surrounded and vandalized a police vehicle, “causing danger to the life of the police officers on board”, they said.

Shortly after 17:00 local time, police began firing several rounds of tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

The protesters – most wearing masks and hard hats – threw projectiles and swore at police – but also parted to allow ambulances to go through.

Later in the evening, in an attempt to clear several hundred demonstrators, police fired rubber bullets, injuring at least nine people, according to the AFP news agency.

Protesters have been demanding an independent inquiry into police violence, saying police used excessive force in several anti-extradition bill and pro-democracy protests.

Demonstrators and pro-democracy legislators have alleged that the authorities – including the police and pro-government legislators – had advance knowledge of the attack.

Police say suggestions that they colluded with criminal gangs were a “smear”, and that 12 people have so far been arrested, including nine men with links to triads.

There have also been growing tensions between protesters and pro-Beijing groups.

Earlier this week, pro-Beijing legislator Junius Ho’s office was ransacked, and his parents’ graves were vandalized.

Junius Ho had come under criticism after video footage showed him shaking hands with white-shirted men on July 27 shortly before the attacks.

He said he did not know about the attack, but defended the men, saying they were simply “defending their home and people”.

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Hundreds of protesters have occupied Hong Kong’s parliament building for hours after breaking away from a protest on the anniversary of the state’s transfer of sovereignty to China from Britain.

Police firing tear gas have moved in to evict protesters from the Legislative Council (LegCo) building.

At midnight, local time, hundreds of police charged towards the building after warning protesters to clear it.

The incident follows weeks of unrest in Hong Kong over a controversial extradition law.

Hundreds of thousands took part in the earlier protest – the latest rally against a proposed law that critics fear could be used to extradite political dissidents to mainland China.

Dozens of demonstrators smashed their way through the glass facade of LegCo. They were joined inside by hundreds more after police vacated the building during the evening.

Hong Kong protests: Schools and banks closed as demonstrators block downtown

Hong Kong clashes near government offices

Image source AFP

Inside the building, protesters defaced the emblem of Hong Kong in the central chamber, raised the old British colonial flag, spray-painted messages across the walls, and shattered furniture.

They clad in plastic helmets and brandishing umbrellas retreated from a baton charge by riot police, who quickly overcame the makeshift barriers in front of the building.

Inside, diehard demonstrators were pulled forcibly outside by their fellow occupants in an attempt to completely clear the building.

Democratic lawmakers Ted Hui and Roy Kwong stood in front of police asking them to allow protesters time to leave the area, the South China Morning Post reported.

Within an hour, the streets around the parliament building were clear of everyone except the media and police.

However, no arrests have yet been reported.

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China’s President Xi Jinping is making his first visit to Hong Kong as leader.

His visit marks 20 years since Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain.

The highly symbolic visit comes amid an increasingly tense political climate.

Official celebrations are planned, as well as large protests from pro-democracy and pro-Beijing camps.

Several well-known activists were arrested on the eve of Xi Jinping’s arrival.

Carrie Lam Becomes Hong Kong’s First Female Chief Executive

The group, which included student leader Joshua Wong, had staged a protest at an iconic sculpture symbolizing the handover.

Image source Reuters

The golden sculpture of a bauhinia flower – Hong Kong’s emblem – by the city’s harbor was a gift from China.

President Xi Jinping arrived for the three-day visit with his wife Peng Liyuan at Hong Kong’s main Chek Lap Kok airport. The couple was welcomed by a marching band and children waving flags.

China to stop issuing multiple entry Hong Kong visas

In a brief speech on the tarmac, President Xi said Hong Kong was “always in my heart”.

Beijing’s central government “has always been a strong backer of Hong Kong” and “will, as always, support Hong Kong’s economic development and improvement of people’s lives”.

President Xi also said Beijing was “willing to work with all sectors of Hong Kong’s society in maintaining Hong Kong’s extraordinary journey these past 20 years”, and would “ensure ‘one country, two systems’ will continue with stability”.

Hong Kong was handed back from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Beijing agreed to govern it under “one country, two systems”, granting the city its own legal system, limited democracy with multiple political parties, and rights like freedom of assembly and free speech.

However, China’s growing influence has been met with unease and concerns that the mainland could undermine Hong Kong’s more politically liberal traditions.

Activists have been campaigning for years for Hong Kong to have more political freedom.