Hong Kong Protesters Clash With Police as China Plans Political Intervention 

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Officers use pepper spray on protesters angry that Beijing will issue an interpretation of the semiautonomous city’s Basic Law.

Police used pepper spray on protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday evening as thousands rallied against Beijing’s plans to intervene in a political standoff over two local lawmakers who insulted China in the city’s legislature.

Ese Erheriene and Chester Yung in Hong Kong and Chun Han Wong in Beijing report: The conflict was the latest sign of a deepening rift between Beijing and many in Hong Kong over how much autonomy the territory should have. Hong Kong is allowed to govern itself under a miniconstitution—the Basic Law—and has an independent judiciary. But Saturday, China’s top legislative body said it is prepared to override Hong Kong’s legal authority over how to handle the local lawmakers’ actions, which Beijing denounced as a threat to national security. The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress said Saturday it would issue its own interpretation of the Basic Law as Beijing “cannot afford to sit idle” when faced with challenges to its authority over Hong Kong, according to the government-run Xinhua News Agency.

Police face off against protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016.

“The police was using very brutal violence to depress us. We were very angry because we think that for such an important issue, we at least have our right to protest.”

— Nathan Law Kwun-chung, the 23-year-old newly elected ‘localist’ who has advocated for greater autonomy from China.

On Sunday, thousands marched in central Hong Kong to protest against China’s looming intervention. In scenes reminiscent of the city’s mass pro-democracy protests of 2014, video taken by local press showed police spraying the crowd and protesters protecting themselves with umbrellas.

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“We were trying to occupy Connaught Road…but there were too many police and there were some conflicts between us. They used pepper spray. We tried to step back and fight again, but they kept on spraying.”

— Hayley Lee, 27, an airline cabin-crew member

Hong Kong Police Force senior superintendent Lewis Tse confirmed officers used pepper spray during a “chaotic” confrontation with some protesters late Sunday. He said two men—aged 39 years and 57 years—had been arrested.

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Hundreds of protesters gathered near Western Street, in the city’s Sai Ying Pun district, as the march against China’s reinterpretation of the Basic Law turned into a standoff with the police. People held umbrellas aloft and wore face masks to protect themselves from the pepper spray.

“We were trying to occupy Connaught Road…but there were too many police and there were some conflicts between us,” said Hayley Lee, 27, an airline cabin-crew member. “They used pepper spray. We tried to step back and fight again, but they kept on spraying.”

[Read the full story here, at  WSJ]

In the crowd, familiar faces from the so-called Umbrella movement two years ago were present.

“The police was using very brutal violence to depress us,” said Nathan Law Kwun-chung, the 23-year-old newly elected “localist” who has advocated for greater autonomy from China. “We were very angry because we think that for such an important issue, we at least have our right to protest,” he said of police attempts to move the crowd near China’s official Liaison Office on Connaught Road.

Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching during a protest march in Hong Kong on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016.

Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching during a protest march in Hong Kong on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency

As the night wore on, rows of police held their lines, while others looked on from the steps of the Western Police Station. Officers stood with shields, warning protesters to keep maintain control and stay calm.

Protesters continued to mill around, disorganized, and many were unsure about whether they would stay out for whole night. Still, they agreed they wanted to take a stand with Beijing’s decision expected to be made Monday.

“We don’t know what’s the next move,” said Hang Tsoi, 25, who is also a cabin-crew member. “We are just trying to occupy.”

Hong Kong started legal proceedings Thursday over whether its legislature should allow two politicians who advocate for greater Hong Kong autonomy to take office, after the pair staged an anti-China protest at their swearing-in ceremony last month.

Beijing’s interpretation of the relevant provision in Hong Kong’s Basic Law would supersede any local court ruling and Hong Kong lawyers have expressed concern that such an intervention would undermine the city’s semiautonomous status…(read more)

Source: WSJ

Write to Ese Erheriene at ese.erheriene@wsj.com, Chester Yung at chester.yung@wsj.com and Chun Han Wong at chunhan.wong@wsj.com



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