Written by Amy Qin
Protesters held another march in Hong Kong on Sunday, the first major action since a small group of demonstrators broke into the city’s Legislature last Monday in a dramatic escalation of recent tensions.
It was the latest in a series of protests that have roiled Hong Kong since the city’s leaders tried to push through a contentious bill that would allow extradition to mainland China. The protests, which organizers say have drawn up to 2 million people, have been mostly peaceful, apart from a few violent confrontations between police and demonstrators.
Organizers said about 230,000 turned out for Sunday’s protests. Police said the turnout was 56,000 at its peak.
Tensions culminated last week when an offshoot group of young protesters smashed their way into a legislative building and ransacked the premises, as hundreds of thousands of people marched peacefully in a concurrent protest elsewhere in the city.
Late Sunday night, police and dozens of protesters clashed in the Mong Kok district a couple hours after the march nearby had ended. The demonstrators sought to occupy a major road, but police declared it an unlawful assembly.
Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory, has a separate political and judicial system and is governed based on a principle known as “one country, two systems.” But in recent years, as Beijing has grown more autocratic and increased efforts to integrate Hong Kong with the mainland, many here have become alarmed about the erosion of the city’s once-robust protections for civic freedoms and rule of law.
While previous marches have been held in the downtown financial and business districts of Hong Kong Island, the march Sunday is the first to take place in Kowloon, an area of Hong Kong that is attached to the Chinese mainland. It is being billed as an opportunity to engage with mainland Chinese in the hope that they will back the protesters.
The march began in the late afternoon in Tsim Sha Tsui, a shopping area popular with mainland Chinese tourists, and ended at the West Kowloon railway station, which is the terminus of a high-speed line from the Chinese city of Guangzhou.
Mainland tourists, many carrying shopping bags, watched and took photographs as the protesters marched past designer stores.