Thousands of people have gathered by the harbour front in the heart of Hong Kong’s central business district to continue the fight for the withdrawal of a controversial extradition law and to demand democracy.
The rally on Wednesday evening was aimed at keeping international attention on Hong Kong before the G20 summit in Japan, where the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, are expected to meet later this week.
“Free Hong Kong. Democracy now. Withdraw the evil law,” chanted the crowds, most of whom were wearing black.
The crowds surrounded three sides of the City Hall, stretched towards the nearby commercial tower Jardine House, filled up a three-storey car park and spilled over into a main waterfront thoroughfare.
At the end of the rally after 10pm, hundreds of protesters moved to demonstrate in front of the police headquarters in Wan Chai. They filled up the nearby streets and chanted “Shame on you” to protest against the police’s use of force to quell demonstrations earlier this month. Some used crowd control barriers to form a barricade between the front entrance of the police headquarters and the protesters.
Police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of thousands occupying the main thoroughfares outside the government headquarters on 12 June, drawing condemnation from international rights groups.
Hong Kong has been rocked by its biggest political crisis in decades. Millions of people have taken to the streets this month to protest against a proposed law that would allow the extradition of individuals, including foreign nationals, to mainland China to stand trial.
Many who took part in Wednesday’s rally said they were frustrated by the refusal of the Hong Kong chief executive, Carrie Lam, to meet their demands.
After earlier mass protests, Lam has suspended the extradition bill and apologised for the social disharmony caused, but stopped short of withdrawing it and condemning the police’s use of force.
“I want to let the world know that we won’t give up – we want democracy and freedom for Hong Kong,” said Alfred Liu, a trader in his 50s. “China is afraid of foreign pressure, but while it still needs Hong Kong, we must seize the opportunity to keep the pressure on.”
China has said it would not allow the G20 nations to discuss the Hong Kong issue at the summit in Osaka, Japan.
A speaker on the stage told the protesters: “We must tell the whole world how Carrie Lam’s administration has betrayed us – they refused to withdraw the bill and used excessive violence. We’re here because we don’t want the Communist party’s puppet to represent us, right?” The crowd applauded and cheered.
Earlier in the day, hundreds marched towards 19 foreign consulates to lobby international governments about the political crisis. Many of the protesters wore white T-shirts emblazoned with the message: “Liberate Hong Kong”, held up placards and chanted slogans, including: “Free Hong Kong”.
On their arrival, protesters read out their petition letters before handing them to consulate officials.
“In desperation we seek your engagement and assistance to fight back against this authoritarian regime with us,” a protester read from a letter addressed to Trump.