Hong Kong is bracing for its latest weekend of unrest, despite the government announcing Wednesday that it will officially withdraw the extradition bill that kicked off the summer of dissent.
“Five Demands, Not One Less!” has become the protester’s new rallying cry, indicating they will not give up on the further actions they want the government to take. Pro-democracy activists and politicians say the concession on the extradition bill was too little, too late.
In addition to formally scrapping the legislation, the demand list includes establishing an independent inquiry into perceived police brutality and allowing direct elections for the city’s leaders.
For three months, protests have roiled semiautonomous Hong Kong, at times paralyzing the Chinese entrepôt and turning the streets into a battleground between demonstrators and police.
The 14th consecutive weekend of protests kicked off Friday afternoon with a call to gather at the Prince Edward subway station—the scene of violent clashes last weekend. Video footage from last Saturday showed police storming into train carriages and indiscriminately beating passengers, some whom were cowering on the ground crying.
By late afternoon Friday, dozens of people had already turned up at the Prince Edward station, aiming to pressure subway authorities into releasing surveillance footage from the incident. The station announced it had called the police to clear the area.
On Saturday, protesters plan to once again block transportation links to the city’s international airport. In mid-August, rallies inside the terminals shut down the busy regional hub, forcing hundreds of flights to be cancelled or delayed. Ahead of the planned disruptions, the city’s Airport Authority placed ads in several local newspapers pleading with protesters not to block travelers from getting to the airport.
“Spare our passengers further disruption,” the ad says. “We again strongly urge protesters not to disrupt the journey of tens of thousands of travellers who use our airport every day.”
On Sunday, protesters will descend on the U.S. Consulate to urge Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The bill would allow the U.S. to revoke Hong Kong’s status as a separate economic and trade zone to mainland China if Hong Kong’s autonomy is found to be insufficient.
The protests, which have at times turned violent, have snowballed into a broader fight for greater democracy in Hong Kong, whose 7.2 million inhabitants are linguistically and culturally distinct from mainland Chinese. Many residents fear Beijing is eroding the “high degree of autonomy” promised when the former British colony was retroceded to China in 1997.
Beijing has denounced the protesters and state media has warned it could intervene. This week, Chinese President Xi Jinping singled out Hong Kong, the neighboring territory of Macau, and the self-governing island of Taiwan (which China considers a renegade province) as major risks the Communist Party must “struggle against.”
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