Hong Kong police on Sunday said they arrested 29 people after clashes overnight in which volleys of tear gas were fired to break up anti-government protests and as the Asian financial hub braced for further demonstrations in the day.
Activists on Saturday threw petrol bombs and bricks at the gritty industrial area of Kwun Tong, a densely populated area of the Chinese territory on the east of the Kowloon peninsula. Four MTR subway stations had been closed due to the protests.
Police used tear gas after some protesters threw Molotov cocktails and bricks and others tore up “smart” lamp posts equipped with surveillance cameras. Others had set up roadblocks with bamboo scaffolding.
It was the first use of tear gas in more than a week after a series of mostly peaceful demonstrations in the former British colony.
Transport to the city’s international airport appeared normal early on Sunday, despite protesters’ plans for a day-long “stress test” of transport in the aviation hub.
Another protest was planned for Sunday in the working class district of Tsuen Wan, while demonstrators also plan a city-wide strike and class boycotts at universities in coming weeks.
Police said in a statement on Sunday that they strongly condemned protesters “breaching public peace” on Saturday and that 19 men and 10 women had been arrested. Those arrested also included the organiser of Saturday’s march, Ventus Lau, public broadcaster RTHK reported.
The protests, which started over a now-suspended extradition bill and have now evolved into demands for greater democracy, have roiled Hong Kong for three months. Demonstrators’ demands include an independent inquiry into what they describe as police brutality, a full withdrawal of the extradition bill and universal suffrage.
The wider calls for democracy have plunged the city into an unprecedented crisis posing a direct challenge for Communist Party leaders in Beijing.
Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the “one country, two systems” arrangement that enshrines a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong since it was handed back from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
China on Saturday freed a British consulate worker Simon Cheng whose detention had fuelled tensions.