Thousands of people have flocked to an open area 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 ahead of the G20 summit in Japan, where the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and the US president, 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 to 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 tear gas 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 as millions have thronged to the streets this month to protest against a proposed law allowing for the extradition of individuals, including foreigners, to mainland China to stand trial.
Many in the 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 controversial 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 its summit.
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 to 19 foreign consulates to lobby international governments about the city’s political crisis ahead of the G20 summit. Many wore white T-shirts emblazoned with the message: “Liberate Hong Kong”, held up placards and chanted slogans: “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.