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Hong Kong protestors form a human chain
Image: Reuters/T. Peter

Hong Kong protesters form a human chain

August 23, 2019

Activists in Hong Kong have locked hands across the city, echoing protests in the USSR three decades ago. Meanwhile, a Chinese daily reported a detained UK consulate official had been "soliciting prostitutes."


Protesters in Hong Kong formed a human chain across the city on Friday, marking the 30-year anniversary of this tactic being used by Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians in their protests against the Soviet Union. The event became known as the Baltic Way or the Baltic Chain.

"The Baltic Way brought the world's attention to their cause and inspired following generations," the organizers of the Hong Kong rally said in a statement. "We plead that you will not look away at this crucial time. Stand with Hong Kong."

Read more: Hong Kong crisis — What you need to know

Several high-profile events were also planned for the weekend in the former UK colony. Protesters are expected to return to Hong Kong international airport on Saturday, despite a court ban. Later in the day, protesters are due to march through the city's eastern district of Kwun Tong. Two more marches are set to be held on Sunday.

UK consulate worker and 'soliciting prostitutes'

Protests first started some 11 weeks ago over an extradition bill which would allow Hong Kongers to be extradited to China. They have since morphed into a wider pro-democracy movement. The activists now demand an independent inquiry into reported police brutality and waiving charges against people arrested during the protests.

China has repeatedly accused the UK of inciting protests in the territory. This week, Chinese authorities confirmed that an official from the UK consulate in Hong Kong, Simon Cheng, had been detained after visiting Shenzen, the city which borders Hong Kong. China said Cheng had been detained for 15 days over violating public order, without providing details.

However, a newspaper close to the Beijing government reported that the 28-year-old had been arrested for "soliciting prostitutes" during his business trip.

The Global Times newspaper, which is run by the Chinese state, also said Cheng had asked the police not to contact his family, but "thanks to the British Foreign Ministry and media, which have been hyping it, the case is now fully exposed."

Canada bars staff from travel

Cheng went missing while preparing to go through customs on his way back to Hong Kong on August 8. He had been texting with his girlfriend during the trip, with the last message reading "Passing through. Pray for me," according to media reports.

On Friday, Cheng's family said the reports of him soliciting prostitutes were "made up."

They added that "everyone should see it's a joke," on their Facebook page.

Following the incident, the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong barred local staff from traveling outside the city and to mainland China.

Canada also published a travel advisory warning that "increased screening of travelers' digital devices has been reported at border crossings between Hong Kong and mainland China."

dj,es/msh (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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