British Consulate Simon Cheng Man-kit worker freed in China

Sunday, 25 Aug, 2019

The demonstrators, who were holding up umbrellas to hide their identities, cheered as it toppled over.

Protesters flooded the streets to demand the removal of smart lampposts in a Kowloon district over fears they could contain high-tech cameras and facial recognition software used for surveillance by Chinese authorities.

Hong Kong is bracing for more anti-government demonstrations and a "stress test" of its worldwide airport this weekend, as protests in the Asian financial hub show no signs of abating and diplomatic tensions between China and some Western nations rise.

Meanwhile, the protests continued on Saturday, when tens of thousands of people rallied in Kwun Tong to urge the government to respond to the five demands, as well as to make people aware of privacy issues linked to the government's "smart lampposts" initiative.

TRT World spoke to journalist Bruce Harrison for more. "We have to be very concerned", one of the protest organizers, Ventus Lau, told the AP.

Clouds of smoke rise from tear gas canisters as police and demonstrators clash during a protest in Hong Kong, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019.

Frontline protesters pulled together a barricade of traffic barriers and bamboo construction poles, spray-painting walls with insults directed at the police.

Tears gas swept across the road as protesters retreated, leaving a trail of broken bottles and at least one small fire in their wake. They retreated after the police charge, but it wasn't clear if they were regrouping to challenge the police again.

The front-line protesters wore bright yellow helmets and gas masks with pink filters and tried to douse the fallen tear gas canisters with water.

The violence broke an uneasy peace that had lasted a little more than a week. Alphabet Inc's Google announced on Thursday its YouTube streaming video service had disabled 210 channels appearing to engage in a coordinated influence operation around the Hong Kong protests.

MTR said on Friday that it may close stations near protests under high risk or emergency situations.

The rail shutdown by the MTR Corporation comes after the rail operator, which runs a network of lines throughout the city, had been criticised in the Chinese state media, including the People's Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, for allowing "rioters" to get away on trains after clashes with police.

Hong Kong's rail operator shut down four stations ahead of a planned protest today as the Chinese-ruled city braced for further unrest and as China released an employee of the British consulate in Hong Kong whose detention had fuelled tension.

Authorities in Shenzhen say Simon Cheng Man-kit was released as scheduled on Saturday after 15 days of administrative detention.

A woman holds a poster of Simon Cheng, a staff member at the consulate who went missing on 9 August after visiting the neighbouring mainland city of Shenzhen, during a protest outside the British Consulate-general office in Hong Kong.

The government released a statement shortly after condemning the vandalism: "Some violent protesters maliciously damaged lampposts on Sheung Yuet Road, Kwun Tong and vandalised government properties, neglecting other road users' safety".

According to the statement August 24 from Luohu police, "law enforcement guaranteed Cheng's legal rights and interests in accordance with the law" during his detention.

Mr Cheng has worked for the British Consulate since December 2017 as an worldwide trade and investment officer for the Scottish government.