Anti-government protesters in Hong Kong yesterday began circulating plans to “stress test” the Bank of China in their bid to keep pressure on the territory’s pro-Beijing leaders, after five people were arrested in the latest clashes with police.
The finance hub has been plunged into its worst crisis in recent history following a month of huge marches as well as violent confrontations with police.
The rallies were sparked by a now-suspended law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, but have since morphed into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory.
Sunday night saw fresh political violence break out in Mongkok District as police baton-charged small groups of masked, largely young protesters who were walking along roads and refused to disperse following another massive rally earlier in the day.
Police said that the group was taking part in an “unlawful assembly” and had been warned that officers would take action.
“Some protesters resisted and police arrested five persons for assaulting a police officer and obstructing a police officer in the execution of duties,” a statement said.
Another protester was arrested earlier in the day for failing to provide identification during a stop and search.
Activists hit out at the police tactics, saying that the protesters had remained peaceful as they made their way home and that violence was started by a shield wall of riot officers that had blocked the crowd’s path.
“HKers joined rally peacefully... against extradition bill result in being beaten and assaulted by HK Police,” democracy activist Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) wrote in a tweet accompanying pictures of at least two protesters with bleeding head wounds.
“Just another example of excessive force used by the police,” he added in another tweet.
By yesterday morning, online groups were already planning more protests on encrypted messenger apps and chat forums that have been successfully used by demonstrators to bring out huge crowds.
One proposal going viral was a call to collectively withdraw funds from the Bank of China on Saturday to “stress test” the organization’s liquidity.
Shares in the bank were down about 1 percent yesterday in line with the broader market.
The state-owned Bank of China’s towering Hong Kong headquarters is one of the most recognizable buildings in the territory’s famous skyline and is one of three banks licensed to issue its own notes.
Protesters are demanding that the extradition bill be scrapped entirely.
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