There was a clash between protesters and the police in Hong Kong on Sunday as thousands marched through the strife-torn city, during a day of global protests aimed at casting a shadow over communist China’s upcoming 70th birthday.
Beijing is preparing for huge, tightly-choreographed festivities from Tuesday to mark the founding of the People’s Republic of China, including a huge military parade that will revel in the country’s emergence as a global superpower.
But ongoing unrest in Hong Kong threatens to upstage those celebrations as the semi-autonomous city boils with public anger over the erosion of its special freedoms under Beijing’s rule.
Democracy activists in the financial hub had vowed to ramp up their nearly four-month-long campaign ahead of Tuesday’s National Day celebrations, which Hong Kong protesters have dubbed a “Day of Grief”.
Sunday witnessed the most intense clashes in weeks as police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons at multiple locations during running battles with hardcore protesters hurling rocks and petrol bombs.
Using online forums and social media, protesters had called for “anti-totalitarian” rallies to be held around the globe. Marches were held in Australia and Taiwan, with more planned in some 40 locations across Europe and North America later in the day.
Clashes broke out before Hong Kong’s unsanctioned march had begun after angry crowds in the shopping district of Causeway Bay surrounded and heckled officers who were conducting stop and searches.
But the tear gas fired by police only emboldened the crowds who then began walking through the streets in their thousands.