Hong Kong Protesters Flood the Streets on National Day

Hong Kong Protesters Flood the Streets on National Day

As China’s 65th National Day broke in Hong Kong, crowds flooded the streets, amid a downpour of rain and despite calls from Chief Executive C.Y. Leung to give up their demands, which include his resignation. A flag-raising ceremony to mark the holiday went ahead as planned but a fireworks show was cancelled. On the mainland, authorities detained at least 12 people for supporting the Hong Kong protests, according to rights group China Human Rights Defenders, while censorship of weibo spiked in recent days to four times its usual levels, according to Weiboscope.

Protesters gathered in three separate areas of Hong Kong: Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mongkok. The New York Times has produced a graphic showing the areas of protest:

And footage from a drone, posted by The Guardian, shows the scope of the crowds, which were growing as the day went on.

Many on Twitter are calling the Hong Kong residents “the politest protesters in the world,” as they pick up their garbage and share umbrellas with police officers. Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy of the New York Times call the protests, “a diligently clean, exceedingly polite and scrupulously peaceful insurgency”:

Here is a movement without a clear leader, one in which crowds of largely young people are organizing themselves and acting on their own, overtaking months of planning by veterans of the city’s pro-democracy camp. The spontaneous, grass-roots nature of the protest is one of its strengths — it has adapted quickly and seized the momentum from the government — but it may also make it difficult for the movement to accept any compromise that the Chinese government might be willing to offer.

The mass sit-in — and for hardier participants, sleep-in — in several of Hong Kong’s key commercial districts has presented the Chinese leadership with one of its biggest and most unexpected challenges in years. The protesters are demanding the right to elect the city’s leader, or chief executive, without procedural hurdles that would ensure that only Beijing’s favored candidates get on the ballot.

China’s state-run news outlets have depicted the protests as the handiwork of a conspiracy aided by the West to topple the Communist Party. But what leaders in Beijing and Hong Kong face is something even more alien to party thinking: an amorphous movement that does not answer to any particular individual or agenda. [Source]

Emily Rauhala from Time reports from Admiralty:

The crowd is mostly but not entirely young, and represents many parts city’s social fabric. High school students in crisp white uniforms deliberate homework on the ground. Local business owners donate food. When a group representing the city’s ethnic minorities arrived at government offices, the crowd roared. “We Are Hong Kong, We Stand United,” their sign read.

Volunteers ferry basic necessities to the front and set up support stations. “Do you need a mask?” they ask. “We have biscuits!” People arrive with plastic shopping bags full of granola bars. There are reserves of toilet paper and bandages. Just before 3 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 30, a polite young man offers water. I decline. “We have sparkling too!” he grins. [Source]

Major shopping areas were closed due to the protests, on what is usually one of the biggest shopping days of the year due to an influx of mainland tourists visiting the territory during Golden Week. But even some Chinese visitors seemed impressed by the comportment of the protesters. From Reuters:

“It’s the first time (in my life) that I’ve seen this kind of movement,” said Li, who was in Hong Kong to shop.

“The actual scene is quite well organized and very disciplined. Not the kind of chaos we would have expected.” [Source]

But some Chinese students in Hong Kong have reported mixed feelings about the protests and have been hesitant to participate, according to the Wall Street Journal and others.

More scenes from the streets:

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