Published: Wed, August 07, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Protesters in Hong Kong decry government's 'empty rhetoric'

Protesters in Hong Kong decry government's 'empty rhetoric'

Protesters gather in Mong Kok during a general strike, August 5, 2019, in Hong Kong as simultaneous rallies were held across seven districts.

Yang, however, seemed to downplay any idea of mainland police or military helping with law enforcement, saying the Hong Kong government was "fully capable of punishing the violent crime in accordance with the law, restore order to society, and restore stability to society".

"We are here to protect the rule of law", Hong Kong legislator Martin Lee declared following the march.

Australians have been warned to exercise a "high degree of caution" when travelling to Hong Kong as pro-democracy protests move towards their third month with no signs of slowing.

If "our Pearl of the Orient" - as Chinese state media referred to Hong Kong in a recent propaganda push - were to still be seized by protests and strikes on China's National Day on October 1, it would directly undermine Xi's narrative that a strong Communist Party under his muscular leadership is leading the Chinese people toward greatness and unity.

The amount of violence and property damage has increased in recent protests, with 10 people injured last week when fireworks were shot from a moving auto into a crowd of pro-democracy activists.

Under the terms of the 1997 handover deal with Britain, Hong Kong has rights and liberties unseen on the Chinese mainland, including an independent judiciary and freedom of speech. "One country, two systems would continue", she said.

The travel warning comes after Hong Kong police announced on Tuesday 148 people were arrested during running battles with protesters at the start of the week.

On Monday, protesters destroyed a total of 117 traffic lights and blocked several main routes in Hong Kong.

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Hong Kong's mini-constitution, known as the Basic Law, states that the city's Department of Justice "shall control criminal prosecutions, free from any interference".

Beijing warned protesters to not underestimate the "immense strength of the central government" and said that all rioters will "eventually be punished". "Don't ever underestimate the firm resolve and huge strength of the central government".

A group of unidentified government prosecutors published an open letter last week accusing Secretary of Justice Teresa Cheng of putting politics above legal principles.

However, one who spoke, using the pseudonym Jerry Chan, said if the People's Liberation Army was deployed, it would discourage foreign investment in Hong Kong and damage China's economy. "We don't want to see thugs get away while the best of our youth get prosecuted".

Protesters are demanding a complete withdrawal of the bill, an independent inquiry into the crisis, an investigation into what they say is excessive use of force by police, and for Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam to step down.

Police said in a statement a man was found in possession of offensive weapons.

He then made it clear to "the very small group of unscrupulous and violent criminals and the dirty forces behind them" that those who play with fire will perish by it, and that whoever participates in violent and criminal activities would be held accountable according to the law.

Police fired tear gas to disperse crowds in Admiralty near the city's Central Government Offices and riot police in Kowloon also used tear gas to disperse crowds that barricaded key arteries. The rallies were initially peaceful but later spiraled into clashes with police.

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