HK protesters hit pause to mark Sept. 11 attacks

Reuters, HONG KONG

Thu, Sep 12, 2019 - Page 6

Hong Kong activists yesterday called off protests in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the US and denounced a Chinese state newspaper report that they were planning “massive terror” in the territory.

“Anti-government fanatics are planning massive terror attacks, including blowing up gas pipes, in Hong Kong on Sept. 11,” the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily said on its Facebook page on Tuesday, alongside a picture of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.

“The 9/11 terror plot also encourages indiscriminate attacks on non-native speakers of Cantonese and starting mountain fires,” it said.

The Facebook post said that “leaked information was part of the strategy being schemed by radical protesters in their online chat rooms.”

“We don’t even need to do a fact check to know that this is fake news,” protester Michael, 24, said of the China Daily post.

“The state media doesn’t care about its credibility. Whenever something they claimed to have heard on WhatsApp or friends’ friends, they will spread it right away,” he added.

The protesters called off action yesterday.

“In solidarity against terrorism, all forms of protest in Hong Kong will be suspended on Sept. 11, apart from potential singing and chanting,” they said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) yesterday reassured foreign investors that the territory can rebound from months of protests, despite no sign that the unrest will subside.

Lam told a forum on China’s Belt and Road Initiative that Hong Kong faces a double whammy of the prolonged US-Chinese trade dispute and the unrest by demonstrators seeking democratic reforms.

Lam voiced confidence that rifts can be mended through government plans for dialogue and upholding the “one country, two systems.”

“We can find a way back to reasoned discussion, to social stability ... after all, Hong Kong has been built and rebuild time and again on our indomitable resilience. Call it the spirit of Hong Kong and know that it will see us through,” she said at the opening of the two-day forum in Hong Kong.

The protests spread to the sports field on Tuesday, as many soccer fans defied Chinese law to boo the national anthem ahead of a soccer World Cup qualifier against Iran.

Also on Tuesday, the Chinese government expressed its anger with German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas over his meeting with the Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong (黃之鋒), saying that the encounter was “disrespectful” of Beijing’s sovereignty.

Wong tweeted a picture of himself and Maas following his arrival in Berlin, saying that the two had discussed the “protest situation and our cause.”

Speaking at a gathering of politicians and media commentators on Monday night, Wong pledged to continue to “protest until the day that we have free elections” and compared Hong Kong with communist East Germany during the protests that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“If we are now in a new cold war, Hong Kong is the new Berlin,” Wong told the gathering. “We urge the free world to stand together with us in resisting the autocratic Chinese regime.”

Wong, was to address students and the public yesterday evening at Humboldt University in Berlin before traveling to the US.