Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam took to the airwaves yesterday to back the use of force by police ahead of a major anti-government march planned this weekend in the Chinese-ruled city, which has been battered by months of violent protests.
Following a week of relative calm, today’s march will test the strength of the pro-democracy movement. Campaigners vowed it would go ahead despite police ruling the rally illegal.
In the past, thousands of people have defied police and staged mass rallies without permission, often peaceful at the start but becoming violent at night.
The trigger for unrest in Hong Kong had been a now-withdrawn proposal to allow extradition to mainland China, as well as Taiwan and Macau.
Lam said in an interview with broadcaster RTHK that police had used appropriate force in handling the protests, and were responding to protesters’ violence, amid criticism of heavy-handed tactics.
More than 2,600 people have been arrested since the protests escalated in June.
Protesters’ demands have, since then, swelled far beyond opposing the extradition bill, to take in broader concerns that Beijing is eroding freedoms granted when Britain handed the city back to China in 1997.