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Hong Kong Protests: What is going on?

Protestors in Hong Kong who began opposing a law that would have allowed extradition to China are now calling for broader human rights reform.

A huge cross-section of society including lawyers, journalists, activists and business figures has joined in widespread protests across the region.

Activists say they won’t stop until their main demands are met. These include the resignation of Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, an amnesty for those arrested and permanent withdrawal of the bill.

Protests have gripped Hong Kong since June 2019, sparked by highly controversial legislation to extradite those convicted of crimes to mainland China and Taiwan.

Clashes in the months since have seen police fired rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray at protesters in repeated bids to break up peaceful demonstrations.

The final week of September marked the 16th week for which demonstrators have been on the streets.

The latest round of unrest saw protesters descend on some of Hong Kong’s busiest shopping districts.

The protests, which had not been sanctioned by authorities, were scheduled to begin a 3 pm on Sunday 29th of September, but riot police began guarding the area hours before and searching a number of young people dressed in black.

Around 40 minutes before the march was due to start, police fired tear gas into the crowds. Many protesters began the march regardless, with some hurling bricks and petrol bombs back at police. Dozens were later arrested, with some having been tackled to the ground and left bleeding heavily.

Beijing has reacted furiously to the protests, warning those involved not to “play with fire”.

China’s military released a threatening video showing them conducting anti-riot drills.

The footage – believed to have been filmed in the region – shows armed troops descending from helicopters and shooting their way through the streets and into people’s homes.

Chinese police and soldiers have been seen training with “giant forks” as Hong Kong braces itself for another weekend of protests across the city.

Security forces were spotted carrying out crowd control exercises with the terrifying weapons at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre just 4.5 miles from the border with Hong Kong.

In a press briefing on August 6, a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council issued China’s firmest rebuke yet.

It said the months-long “radical protests” had negatively impacted Hong Kong’s “prosperity and stability, pushing it into a dangerous abyss”.

In July, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has since been ousted and replaced by Dominic Raab, tweeted that Britain’s “support for Hong Kong and its freedoms is unwavering.” He said the UK couldn’t just “gulp and move on” in response to the ongoing situation in the former British territory.

Hunt warned there would be a diplomatic showdown if the Sino-British declaration on Hong Kong was not honored by Beijing. A spokesman said the Beijing government was “extremely dissatisfied” with the way Britain had “continuously gesticulated” about Hong Kong.

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