Hong Kong police fired tear gas and water cannon yesterday as thousands of pro-democracy protesters hit the streets, defying authorities with another unsanctioned march after Beijing vowed to tighten its control over the unrest-plagued city.
Crowds of black-clad protesters, many wearing face masks despite a recent ban, filled Causeway Bay, a popular shopping district, and clashes soon erupted as riot police tried to scatter them.
Sustained volleys of tear gas were fired throughout the afternoon on the main island while a water cannon truck chased groups of activists as they blocked roads, built barricades and vandalised some businesses -- including smashing the windows of China’s state-run Xinhua news agency office.
Police were seen making multiple arrests throughout the day.
The latest clashes came after China warned on Friday that it would not tolerate any challenge to Hong Kong’s governing system and planned to boost patriotic education in the city, which has seen 22 consecutive weekends of youth-led protests.
Hong Kong has been upended by the huge, often violent, pro-democracy protests which have battered the financial hub’s reputation for stability and helped plunge the city into recession.
Beijing has shown no willingness to meet protester demands for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability -- and activists show no sign of leaving the streets.
Beijing runs Hong Kong under a “one country, two systems” model that grants the city freedoms unheard of on the authoritarian mainland. But many activists fear those freedoms are being eroded by a resurgent Beijing, particularly since President Xi Jinping came to power.