Pro-democracy protesters are demanding former colonial power Britain take a stronger stance against China to preserve Hong Kong's special status. Demonstrators also clashed with police in defiance of a protest ban.
Hundreds of Hong Kong protesters carried the UK flag aloft and sang "God Save the Queen" in front of the British Consulate on Sunday, demanding that the former colonial power put pressure on China. Demonstrators also held banners reading "One country, two systems is dead" and "UK save Hong Kong."
Elsewhere in the city, thousands of protesters defied a police ban to march through the streets.The march reportedly disrupted traffic and weekend shopping at the popular Causeway Bay shopping belt.
Reports said the demonstrations turned violent when small groups of activists tried to attack Hong Kong's government complex, hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at police over security barriers.
Police responded with tear gas and water cannon trucks with water dyed blue in order to later identify protesters. The clashes ended a relative lull in the intensity of skirmishes between police and protesters. Demonstrations have taken place regularly since June.
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Hong Kong caught by history
The protest movement started against an extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kongers to be sent to mainland China for trial, despite the city having its own independent judiciary.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam withdrew the extradition bill last week, after previously suspending it.
But the protests have moved beyond opposition to the extradition bill, morphing into a mass demonstration against the Hong Kong government and Beijing.
Pro-democracy protesters are demanding universal suffrage and police accountability after a number of violent incidents during demonstrations.
The momentum behind the protests represents a major challenge to China, which says it is committed to "one country, two systems," denies meddling and views Hong Kong as an internal affair.
Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" agreement that ensures freedoms not granted on the mainland until 2047.
Beijing has accused Britain and the United States of being behind the unrest. Britain says it is a legal party to the agreement that transferred Hong Kong to China and would defend residents' interests.
However, it is unclear what action Britain can take, with its own government in crisis back home over chaotic Brexit plans and London looking for trade and investment cooperation with China as it prepares to leave the European Union.
wmr,cw/rc (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)