Hong Kong police fire tear gas at protesters | News | DW | 03.08.2019
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Hong Kong police fire tear gas at protesters

Anti-government rallies once again descended into a standoff between police and protesters, as tens of thousands marched through the streets. Protesters are demanding expanded rights and autonomy from mainland China.

Watch video 01:41

Violence seems to be escalating in Hong Kong

Hong Kong police fired tear gas at protesters on Saturday after tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters rallied through the streets for expanded democratic rights and autonomy.

Police had warned protesters against deviating from an approved route for Saturday's pro-democracy march, saying they would intervene if protesters refused to listen to police orders.

But protesters refused to comply, instead establishing roadblocks and disrupting public transport.

"We hope the government will stand up and say something," a 25-year-old protester told DW's Charlotte Chelsom-Pill. "Every protest is getting more and more dangerous and more and more violent."

The first rounds of tear gas were fired by police in the harborside district of Tsim Sha Tsui, an area known for its luxury malls. Riot police charged at demonstrators who had smashed the windows of police cars.

As protests continued into early Sunday morning, police again fired pepper spray and tear gas in the Wong Tai Sin district after protesters and locals hurled umbrellas and other objects at police.

Earlier, several pro-democracy protesters removed a Chinese national flag from a pole and threw it into the iconic Victoria Harbour.

Read more: Hong Kong strike: Can protesters shut down the city?

Watch video 01:41

Chinese army video hints at quelling of protests

Chinese military prepared to intervene

Earlier this week, the Chinese military said it was prepared to intervene if the situation becomes "intolerable."

However, the editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, Hu Xijin, suggested a military intervention was unlikely.

"The [People's Liberation Army] Hong Kong Garrison is a symbol of national sovereignty and cannot be regarded as Hong Kong's police backup," said Hu.

But that hasn't stopped demonstrators from worrying about the rising use of violence against protesters by Hong Kong police.

"I'm a little worried about whether the police force might use violent ways on the demonstrators, because the route of the demonstration is a little bit narrow," one protester told the Reuters news agency ahead of the rally.

Read more: Opinion: Could China send the military to occupy Hong Kong?

Historic protests

Hong Kong has witnessed historic protests over the summer. What first started as demonstrations against a controversial extradition law has blossomed into a movement fighting for expanded democratic rights and autonomy.

Recent protests have started to turn violent, with police taking bolder actions to disperse protesters, including firing rubber bullets and arresting dozens of participants.

Earlier this week, Beijing said it supported police and city authorities, saying they have the responsibility to maintain the rule of law. "Violence is violence, unlawful acts are unlawful," said a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing.

Read more: Are Hong Kong protests a warning for Taiwan?

Police supporters gather 

Separate demonstrations were also held Saturday to show support for authorities, with police saying 26,000 people took part in a pro-police rally at Victoria Park. Dressed in white, many waved Chinese flags alongside the Hong Kong flag.

Further protests by anti-government activists were planned for Sunday, while a mass strike has been called for Monday.

Watch video 26:00

Hong Kong's Ronny Tong | Conflict Zone

rs, ls/cmk (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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