Anti-government demonstrators gather for a lunchtime protest at Chater Garden in Hong Kong, China. Leah Millis/ Reuters
Hong Kong’s police chief has urged citizens to demonstrate peacefully ahead of what is expected to be a large-scale pro-democracy march on Sunday, an event planned amid a lull in violence in the Chinese-ruled city.
Police on Thursday gave a rare green light to the demonstration, organised by the Civil Human Rights Front, the group that called the million-strong marches in the summer. Sunday’s march is a key gauge of the pro-democracy movement’s support following its sweeping victory in local elections.
Speaking to reporters before departing for a “courtesy visit” to Beijing, newly-installed police commissioner Chris Tang urged Hong Kongers to set a global example.
“We hope our citizens can show the whole world (that) Hong Kong people are capable of holding a large scale rally in an orderly and peaceful manner,” he said. “We urge the organiser to assist the police on maintaining the order.”
Tang was traveling to meet with senior officials from the ministry of public security in Beijing and is expected to return to Hong Kong on Sunday.
The unrest in Hong Kong is the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
The former British colony has been wracked by six months of pro-democracy protests sparked by a now withdrawn China extradition bill and which have broadened into calls for greater democratic freedoms.
Escalating violence last month saw a dramatic university siege that pitted protesters against the police.
Despite the increasingly violent tactics adopted by some protesters, pro-democracy candidates achieved record gains in the Nov. 24 local elections, winning almost 90 per cent of the seats after the highest ever voter turnout since local polls began in 1999.
Hong Kong has enjoyed a period of relative calm since, a state the new police chief said he hoped could be maintained.
“In the last two weeks the city was relatively peaceful,” he noted, “When the citizens have a chance to take a breather, we hope the violent people will really stop engaging in illegal activities.”
Later on Friday, protesters plan a smaller rally against police use of tear gas, which they say is excessive and harming innocent bystanders. The police has said its use of force has been restrained.
Police arrested six people during a demonstration in one of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist areas on Sunday, where thousands of protesters sought to raise awareness among mainland Chinese visitors
Police on Sunday sought to defend China’s main representative office in Hong Kong from protesters for the second consecutive weekend, with the building near the heart of the financial centre
Hong Kong police searched public transport heading for the airport on Saturday ahead of another “stress test” of road and rail links by anti-government protesters, the latest in 14 weeks
A conveyor belt caught fire in the early hours of the morning, state news agency Xinhua cited the government as saying, which produced dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has that said those responsible for sending him to jail have "sunk the country" and these "antics" would not be allowed to carry on.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned against hasty withdrawal of foreign powers from Afghanistan, according to media reports.