Hong Kong protesters block streets as general strike looms

Hong Kong was rocked with demonstrations for a third day Sunday, a day after police firing tear gas were overwhelmed by angry mobs.

Protesters blocked Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay area on Sunday, part of weekend demonstrations across the city. Photo by Jerome Favre

The disturbances spread across the city on Sunday after Saturday’s demonstrations were largely confined to the island of Kowloon. Hundreds of protesters vandalized a police station in Tseung Kwan O, a residential district of the city on Sunday by throwing eggs, paint and bricks. They dispersed after police warnings of tear gas and arrest.

The protesters also occupied roads in Kennedy Town and Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island after clashes with police clashes in Sheung Wan. Police fired tear gas into a crowd advancing towards Beijing’s liaison office in the city. An entrance to the Cross-Harbor Tunnel was also blockaded for several minutes before it was reopened.

A spokesman of the deeply unpopular Hong Kong government said in a statement that protesters damaged traffic lights in the Causeway Bay area, a retail and shopping district, and noted that demonstrators were “neglecting road users’ safety and seriously paralyzing the traffic in the area.”

The focus of the protests is a controversial extradition bill that would allow the Chinese government to essentially extradite defendants from Hong Kong, a city with a quasi-independent status in China, to the mainland for trial. Although the bill has been postponed, protests have been conducted, largely peacefully, for the past nine weeks, with demonstrators demanding that the bill be shelved entirely. Organizers are planning a five-day demonstration.

Police have attempted to quell rumors of violence, saying in one case that fireworks allegedly dropped on demonstrators at a police dormitory were actually the work of the demonstrators themselves. As the protests spread throughout the city on Saturday and Sunday, police have found themselves strained and spread thinly. In past weeks, demonstrations have been confined to single areas and largely without any formal leadership.

That could change Monday, when a general strike in Hong Kong is planned. It is endorsed by the city’s major trade unions and is expected to include major traffic disruptions.

ByEd Adamczyk