Hong Kong protesters demand mainland Chinese traders leave, at least 15 arrested in clashes at mall near border

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Protesters march through a shopping mall in Sheung Shui, near Hong Kong's boundary with the mainland, on Dec 28, 2019. PHOTO: AP
A protester grabs a woman's shopping bag during a demonstration at a shopping mall in Sheung Shui, near Hong Kong's boundary with the mainland, on Dec 28, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS
Protesters and shoppers in a shopping mall in Sheung Shui, near Hong Kong's boundary with the mainland, on Dec 28, 2019. PHOTO: AP
A plainclothes policeman points a can of pepper spray during a demonstration at a shopping mall in Sheung Shui, near Hong Kong's boundary with the mainland, on Dec 28, 2019. PHOTO: AP
A protester being detained during a demonstration at a shopping mall in Sheung Shui, near Hong Kong's boundary with the mainland, on Dec 28, 2019. PHOTO: AP

HONG KONG (AP, AFP) - Police fought with protesters who marched through a Hong Kong shopping mall Saturday (Dec 28) demanding mainland Chinese traders leave the territory in a fresh weekend of anti-government tension.

The protest in Sheung Shui, near Hong Kong's boundary with the mainland, was part of efforts to pressure the government by disrupting economic activity.

About 100 protesters marched through the mall shouting, "Liberate Hong Kong!" and "Return to the mainland!".

Police in civilian clothes with clubs tackled and handcuffed some protesters.

One officer fired pepper spray at protesters and reporters. Some shoppers argued with police in olive fatigues and helmets who blocked walkways in the mall.

At least 15 people were arrested. The fresh unrest ended a brief calm after protesters had battled riot police in shopping malls and streets of commercial districts across the city for three days over the Christmas period.

Protests that began in June over a proposed China extradition law have spread to include demands for more democracy and other grievances.

The proposed law was withdrawn but protesters want the resignation of the territory's leader, Mrs Carrie Lam, and other changes.

Protesters complain Beijing and Mrs Lam's government are eroding the autonomy and Western-style civil liberties promised to Hong Kong when the former British colony returned to China in 1997.

On Saturday, some merchants wrapped orange tape around kiosks or partially closed security doors on shops but business went ahead normally.

Hong Kong is a popular destination for mainland Chinese traders who buy goods in the territory, which has no sales tax and a reputation for genuine products, to resell on the mainland.

Sheung Shui was the site of clashes between police and demonstrators in June.

Earlier this week, protesters smashed windows in shopping areas over the Christmas holiday. Some fought with police.

A total of 336 people, some as young as 12, were arrested from Monday to Thursday, according to police.

Protesters have damaged subway stations, banks and other public facilities.

Earlier this month, opposition candidates won a majority of posts in elections for district representatives, the lowest level of government.

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