Hard-line protesters resume violence over Hong Kong mask ban

Wednesday, 09 Oct, 2019

In the last four months, violence perpetrated by protesters has been escalating.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong over the weekend wearing face masks, despite Lam having banned masks under colonial-era emergency laws invoked on Friday. "But if the situation becomes so bad, then no options can be ruled out if we want Hong Kong to at least to have another chance".

Lam said Beijing wanted Hong Kong to solve its own problems, but under its mini-constitution, known as the Basic Law, Hong Kong could ask Beijing for help.

"I still strongly feel that we should find the solution ourselves", Lam told reporters Tuesday.

Stressing the impact to Hong Kong's economy after four months of pro-democracy protests, she said that visitor arrivals to the Asian financial hub had dropped by more than 50% year on year during the October 1-6 National Day holiday period, when the city is usually packed with tourists.

Riot police fanned out across Hong Kong on Monday night as groups of hard-line protesters took to the streets in continued violence since the government banned face masks at rallies, pushing the semi-autonomous Chinese territory into deeper crisis.

U.S. skateboard brand Vans is facing a Hong Kong boycott after it removed a protest-inspired shoe from a design competition. Many restaurants and malls closed early over what is typically a busy holiday period.

Instead of deterring rioting and calming the anti-government demonstrations that have rocked the worldwide financial hub for four months, the mask ban has led to more anger, with rallies and widespread violence over the last three days.

"We need the people of Hong Kong to respect the law", Lam said.

"I will leave the decision or any comment on the involvement of PLA back to Hong Kong government and as police, we will not comment further".

Lam, who has said she serves both the central government and the people of Hong Kong, was in Beijing last week for National Day festivities but said she did not meet any central government officials to discuss "business".

Lam claims the face mask ban is needed to stop violence but critics say it is a unsafe assault on civil rights that has only spurred fresh outrage and protests.

Chinese diplomats accused the European Union of "publicly glorifying the rioters and flouting police self-defence measures against their aggressors", and questioned whether European Union members actually wanted Hong Kong to "plunge into irreversible chaos." .

"For the past four months, especially during the recent one or two months, we were under unprecedented impact of violence", she said.

Many protesters, police and journalists have been injured in clashes, with police using rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons against demonstrators, some of whom throw bricks and petrol bombs.

She appealed to property developers and landlords to offer relief to retailers whose businesses had been hit.

Schools reopened on Tuesday after a three-day holiday in the territory. Authorities have described protesters as "militant activists", but many Hong Kong residents are also angry at the emergency powers, fearing their civil rights could be eroded.

Protesters voice the invoice is an example of Beijing's rising affect over Hong Kong, a former British colony, which was once promised a excessive level of autonomy when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

"I can not (say) now under what circumstances we would do extra things including.calling on the central government for help", Lam said.