HONG KONG: Hong Kong is gearing up for demonstrations over the Christmas week with protesters planning to gather in districts across the city, including in prime shopping malls, the latest in more than six months of unrest.
This week’s protests follow a weekend of rallies, including one on Sunday, which ended in clashes when black-clad, masked demonstrators attacked police with kicks and punches and threw bricks and bottles.
Protesters plan to gather in five malls on Christmas eve, and will count down to Christmas near the city’s harbor front in the bustling Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district.
Protests are also planned for various places on Christmas Day according to notices on social media.
The protests are now in their seventh month, albeit in a relative lull compared with the scale and intensity of earlier confrontations. Police have arrested more than 6,000 people since the protests intensified in June, including more than 52 in the past weekend.
Many Hong Kong residents are angry at what they see as Chinese meddling in the freedoms promised to the former British colony when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Other demands of the protesters include the release of all arrested demonstrators and full democracy.
“Advocating Hong Kong independence … is not conducive to the overall and long term interest of Hong Kong society. It is also contrary to the established basic policies of the People’s Republic of China regarding Hong Kong,” the city government said in a statement overnight.
While police, including the leader of a major police union, have referred to the protesters as cockroaches, protesters routinely call the police dogs.
On Monday, public broadcaster RTHK broadcast a video of a police public relations officer playing down the significance of the term cockroach.
The officer said the term should not be “over-interpreted” because while it may be negative, another way to understand it was that cockroaches were “full of vitality”.