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Clashes erupted in Hong Kong after dueling demonstrations



HONG KONG – Anti-government protesters clashed with police and dropped gas bombs in Hong Kong on Saturday, a new sign that political tensions are rising in Chinese territory before a sensitive political anniversary. The clashes occurred after a pro-democracy march a few miles from Hong Kong's border with China's mainland and on a day when government supporters swept the streets in a symbolic rejection of the three-month protest movement.

This was the 16th consecutive weekend of unrest in the semi-autonomous territory, with less than two weeks left before October 1, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China by the Communist Party. Beijing does not want anything to bother about the holiday, but protesters in Hong Kong seem determined to do just that.

The first event on Saturday was an urban "sweep" led by Unius Ho, a pro-Beijing MP who is among the most vocal defenders of the government. He visited several areas of Hong Kong where he kept a broom and a dust pan, and arranged the sidewalks theatrically while rolling television cameras.

"National Day is almost here, plus the 70th anniversary this year, so we want to give Hong Kong a clean face," said Ines Tang, 55, a volunteer who joined one of the cleaning events.

Mr. Hote is considered particularly despicable by protesters since late July, when a group of men wearing white T-shirts attacked protesters with sticks and metal sticks at a subway station. Mr Ho was seen shaking hands in similar T-shirts that night. He later denied any connection.

As Mr Ho's cleanup ended on Saturday, thousands of anti-government protesters are launching a police-approved procession from a park in Tuen Moon area in northwest Hong Kong. The hike was created in part to require greater regulation of the park's bookers, known as "singing nonsense," middle-aged Chinese women singing pop songs through Mandarin speakers, the main form of Chinese spoken in the mainland. [19659005] The antipathy toward these women reflects a widespread fear of the growing influence of mainland Chinese in Hong Kong, a former British colony handed over to Beijing in 1997 under a one-party, two-system agreement, which guarantees a high degree of autonomy for half a century.

A protester at the park, Phoenix Leung, 30, said the hike in Tuen Moon was part of a broader struggle for freedom on the territory.

"The government will do nothing about this and it is up to us to protect the rights we should have," said Ms. Leng, who works at the hospital. "The parks are for our free time, not their private ones.

Protests in Hong Kong began in June in opposition to controversial legislation that would allow extradition to mainland China, where courts are controlled by the Communist Party. The Hong Kong government has promised to withdraw the bill, but protests continue, driven by demands for universal suffrage, greater police accountability, and other significant political reforms.

By late afternoon in Tuen Mun, several protesters set fire to a Chinese flag. Previous flag burns this summer have angered government supporters in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland.

Other protesters stormed the tracks of a nearby train station, smashing security cameras and glass signboards with metal poles. The station was previously shut down by the city's metro operator, pending demonstrations.

Police officers in riot gear initially observed grievous bodily harm from a distance. But by 5:00 PM – in scenes that became commonplace this summer in a normally quiet city – they fired tear gas at protesters and squeezed some to the ground.

Meanwhile, protesters threw brick and gas bombs on the road to thwart police charges and fire fires on the streets. And that was all before sunset.


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