Tear Gas Fired as Protesters Return to Streets: Hong Kong Update

Karen Leigh, Natalie Lung and Manuel Baigorri

(Bloomberg) -- Police fired tear gas as thousands of black-clad protesters marched in Hong Kong’s tourist district Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday, as tensions re-emerged after the euphoria of pro-democracy victories at district elections last weekend.

Protesters also marched to the U.S. consulate in a rally to express gratitude after President Donald Trump signed legislation last week expressing support for the demonstrators. Late Saturday, a group of protesters blocked roads and set fire to a subway station entrance.

Here’s the latest (all times local):

MTR to add train captains (5:30 a.m.)

The city’s subway operator says some sections of its network will need more train captains to ensure there aren’t objects hindering the operation of trains. Some traffic lights were damaged that may affect its Light Rail services.

Police in riot gear line streets (2 a.m.)

Police in riot gear were still seen lining some streets even as the crowd dispersed.

Police disperse crowds in Whampoa (11 p.m.)

Police also fired tear gas in nearby Whampoa, where bricks were hurled at them. A passer-by was attacked, roads were blocked and stores were vandalized in the area.

Tear gas fired in Tsim Sha Tsui (5:45 p.m.)

Police fired tear gas and used pepper spray as thousands of protesters marched in Hong Kong’s busy tourist district of Tsim Sha Tsui. The police said in a statement that tear gas was fired in response to protesters throwing bricks at officers.

March to U.S. consulate (Sunday, 1:30 p.m.)

Thousands of protesters carrying U.S. flags and banners marched peacefully to the consulate. In a separate rally Sunday, demonstrators headed to Polytechnic University and the Cross-Harbour Tunnel.

China accuses UN Human Rights Head of meddling (late Saturday)

China said it “strongly” opposed an op-ed by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, accusing her of meddling in the country’s affairs and emboldening Hong Kong protesters to commit violence.

Bachelet urged the Hong Kong government to conduct a “proper independent and impartial judge-led investigation” into reports of excessive use of force by police, according to an opinion piece in the South China Morning Post on Saturday. She also urged Carrie Lam’s government to “prioritize a long-overdue process” of meaningful and inclusive dialogue with the people of Hong Kong.

China said Bachelet and her office should “stop making irresponsible comments, and refrain from interfering by any means in the internal affairs” of Hong Kong.

“The Central Government will continue to firmly support the Chief Executive in governing the Hong Kong SAR in accordance with law, support the Hong Kong police in strictly enforcing law, and support the Hong Kong judicial organs in bringing violent criminals to justice according to law,” China’s UN mission in Geneva said in the statement.

Tensions rise again (11 p.m.)

About 200 protesters blocked roads, closed an exit at the Prince Edward MTR station and set fire to an entrance of Mong Kok MTR station late Saturday, the South China Morning Post reported. Police fired at least one round of tear gas, it said.

Foreign nationals arrested in China (6 p.m.)

China arrested two overseas nationals for their alleged involvement in the Hong Kong protest movement, state newspaper Southern Daily reported, citing information from the national security agency. Taiwan citizen Lee Meng-chu and Lee Henley Hu Xiang of Belize were arrested by the national security authorities in the southern Guangdong province, the local paper said.

The Taiwanese was suspected of spying and leaking Chinese state secrets, while the other person was accused of funding criminal activities that endanger national security, the paper said. Prosecutors have approved the arrests in both cases and are going through legal procedures, it said.

Protesters return (Saturday, 2 p.m.)

Hundreds of secondary-school students and elderly people rallied in a park in the city center in support of Hong Kong’s ongoing protests and against police use of tear gas. A number of people addressed the crowd before a band played on a makeshift stage in front of background poster that said: The elderly and the young hold hands and we walk together with you.

1,377 arrested in relation to PolyU (4:54 p.m.)

Hong Kong police have arrested 1,377 people who left the then-besieged PolyU campus or were in the vicinity, the force’s Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen said at a daily briefing. More than 300 people under age 18 had their information taken down when they left the campus, he said, adding that he was “pleased” the episode at the school was coming to an end and that he hoped it could be a “turning point” for the city’s unrest, as it was resolved peacefully

Police have now made 5,890 protest-related arrests since rallies began on June 9, he said.

Hong Kong insurance sales to China slip (3:32 p.m.)

Insurance sales in the financial hub to mainland customers declined in the third quarter as the protests halted visits to the city. Their purchases of insurance and related investment policies declined 18% to HK$9.7 billion ($1.2 billion) from a year earlier, according to figures from Hong Kong’s Insurance Authority. That year-on-year drop was the biggest since the start of last year, weighing on insurance giants such as Prudential Plc and AIA Group Ltd.

Hong Kong is a hot market to buy insurance for mainland customers since it offers a wider array of investment products and access to foreign currencies. Since rules stipulate that customers need to finalize contracts in person, sales have been pummeled as many prospective Chinese customers have avoided the former British colony.

PolyU siege ends (Friday 12:51 p.m.)

Police said they lifted their blockade on PolyU after officers cleared the campus. Chow Yat-ming, the city’s assistant police commissioner, said he believed PolyU could be handed back to university management after dangerous items that remained on campus were removed.

Firemen and a police safety team did a final sweep of the campus in the morning after searching every level of each building to handle hazardous items and collect evidence the day before. The police said they seized items including 3,989 petrol bombs, 1,339 explosive items and 601 bottles of corrosive liquids.

--With assistance from Zheping Huang and Aaron Mc Nicholas.

To contact the reporters on this story: Karen Leigh in Hong Kong at kleigh4@bloomberg.net;Natalie Lung in Hong Kong at flung6@bloomberg.net;Manuel Baigorri in Hong Kong at mbaigorri@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Tony Czuczka

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