'French Spider-Man' climbs Li Ka Shing's Hong Kong skyscraper, hangs peace flag

French "Spiderman" Alain Robert climbed up Cheung Kong Centre to hang a large banner depicting juxtaposed flags of Hong Kong and China atop a symbolic handshake.
French "Spiderman" Alain Robert climbed up Cheung Kong Centre to hang a large banner depicting juxtaposed flags of Hong Kong and China atop a symbolic handshake.PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - A man scaled the side of an iconic Hong Kong skyscraper on Friday (Aug 16) to unfurl a banner calling for peace between Hong Kong and China, as tensions escalate across the financial hub.

Decked out in colourful climbing gear, the man climbed up Cheung Kong Centre in downtown Hong Kong - the nerve centre of billionaire Li Ka-Shing's business empire - to hang a large flag on the building's exterior.

The banner depicted juxtaposed flags of Hong Kong and China atop a symbolic handshake, a seeming plea for peace after 11 weeks of tense face-offs between black-clad protesters and Hong Kong police.

Agence France-Presse identified the climber as French "Spiderman" Alain Robert, who has scaled buildings around the world.

The ad-hoc action coincided with a series of ads that Mr Li, known locally as Superman for his business and investment acumen, took out in local newspapers Friday, including one urging "Love Hong Kong, love China, love yourself."

A representative for the building's management said police and firefighters had arrived at the scene.

Hong Kong's protesters have sustained their momentum for weeks through summer heat, clouds of tear gas and increasingly aggressive police tactics. The historic movement erupted in early June in opposition to legislation that would allow extraditions to mainland China for the first time, and has since widened to include calls for leader Carrie Lam to resign.

Sporadic mass weekend marches have given way to unruly demonstrations on a near-daily basis, spanning from the city centre to far-flung neighbourhoods.

 

Tactics have also shifted, with protesters using flash mobs and strikes to shut down subway lines, major roads and even the international airport. Hong Kong police have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and arrests.