Wed, Jan 03, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Anti-Beijing protesters march in HK

RAILING AGAINST COLOCATION:One point of contention was a decision that would bring the high-speed rail terminus under Chinese law, despite its downtown location

AFP, HONG KONG

A man is removed by security during a pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong late on Monday.

Photo: AFP

Protesters on Monday marched through Hong Kong against what they described as suppression by Beijing, days after Chinese authorities ruled that part of a rail station would come under Chinese law.

Demonstrators scuffled with police at the end of the march and some who refused to leave the protest area were carried or escorted out by security guards.

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong (黃之鋒), who joined thousands of protesters at the march, said that suppression by the Chinese Communist Party government had worsened last year.

Wong, 21, was jailed in August over his role in the “Umbrella movement” mass pro-democracy protests of 2014 and is on bail pending an appeal against his six-month sentence.

“In 2018, I hope that every Hong Konger can become an avenger and win back the core values eroded by Beijing,” Wong said.

Many of the protesters were angry at the so-called “colocation” agreement, which would bring part of a new rail terminus in the heart of Hong Kong under Chinese law.

The high-speed link to the sprawling southern Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou is due to open this year, with plans for a joint immigration checkpoint that would see Chinese police and other officials based in the Hong Kong terminus.

China’s top legislative body approved the project last week.

The final stage before implementation is a vote by Hong Kong’s legislative council, which is weighted toward Beijing.

Pro-democracy lawmakers, campaigners and some in the territory’s legal community say the plan is a violation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which stipulates that national laws do not apply to Hong Kong with a few exceptions.

Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing government argues the rail setup is for the convenience of passengers and both local and Chinese authorities insist it does not impinge on the territory’s autonomy.

“I find it ironic that the legally illiterate are explaining what the rule of law is,” office worker Patrick Tang, 48, said of Beijing’s ruling on the rail link.

The march culminated at a plaza outside the government’s headquarters known as Civic Square, a traditional protest area recently reopened to the public after being shut down during the 2014 rallies.

Protesters demanded the resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) and there were minor scuffles with police. One demonstrator had his arm in a sling and another was stretchered away.

Democracy campaigner Nathan Law (羅冠聰), a former lawmaker who was disqualified from the legislature after an intervention from Chinese authorities, said the public would “say no” to Beijing.

“Hong Kong people have backbone. Hong Kong people have their own dignity,” he told the crowds.

The handful of protesters who remained at midnight were escorted out of the square by security, with one man carried out by four guards.

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