Hong Kong police fire tear gas amid renewed tensions, protests

Hong Kong police officers unfurling a blue banner with a warning telling crowds to disperse, on May 24, 2020. ST PHOTO: CLAIRE HUANG
Shops along Marsh Road in Wan Chai drawing their shutters as tension builds in Hong Kong, on May 24, 2020. ST PHOTO: CLAIRE HUANG
Heavy police presence outside Sogo on May 24, 2020. ST PHOTO: CLAIRE HUANG
Along Hennessy road, sights common last year makes reappearance on May 24, 2020. ST PHOTO: CLAIRE HUANG
Police block pro-democracy lawmakers and activists from reaching China’s Liaison Office during a rally against a security law in Hong Kong on May 22, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Pro-democracy activists protest against a proposed new security law outside the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong on May 24, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG - The game of cat and mouse between anti-government protesters and riot police in Hong Kong was renewed on Sunday (May 24), as people heeded online calls to gather at Sogo in Causeway Bay to demonstrate.

At least hundreds - and some media say thousands - of people gathered outside Sogo for a planned march, despite heavy police presence and a ban on public gatherings of more than eight.

Police said in statements on Sunday that they had to deploy tear gas after some rioters blocked various roads such as Hennessy Road, Yee Wo Street and Fleming Road, "with miscellaneous objects, causing serious obstruction to the road traffic".

Police also used water cannon to disperse the crowd in Causeway Bay.

Police say they have arrested at least 120 people as of 4.30pm while the Hospital Authority said six individuals hurt in the protests were admitted to hospital, one of them in critical condition.

Compared with the unrest last year, this time smaller groups of black-clad protesters appeared in different areas in Causeway Bay and Wan Chai to block roads.

More than four hours into a game of hide and seek with some hardcore protesters, riot police cordoned off multiple areas, essentially placing Causeway Bay on lockdown.

An expatriate who calls herself Jane is frustrated with the situation, saying that in her more than two years in Hong Kong, even during last year's fierce clashes, she has always been able to get home.

"I just want to get home after a long day and my house is just in front on Yee Wo Street but I can't," she said.

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An equally upset local woman shouted at the police stationed along East Point Road.

"Hong Kong is now governed by the police and we can't go anywhere anymore.," she said.

The renewed tensions come as Beijing on Friday moved to directly enforce a controversial national security law in Hong Kong by announcing a draft resolution to be voted this week.

Despite reassurances from pro-Beijing lawmakers and Chief Executive Carrie Lam that China's decision will not erode freedoms in Hong Kong, the opposition camp and activists begged to differ, particularly as Beijing said in the draft that it can set up national security agencies in the territory to aid local authorities with enforcement.

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