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Hong Kong protesters keep up pressure with fresh rallies
JC News|Aug. 10, 2019
Hong Kong pro-democracy activists kept up the pressure on authorities with a colourful "family rally" and a sit-in at the city's airport on Saturday, as protests enter a third month.
There was little sign of a softening in the position of the financial hub's chief executive, who ruled out concessions, while Beijing and Washington stepped up a war of words over a US diplomat's meeting with Hong Kong activists.
Beijing has taken a harsh line on the demonstrations but protesters remain unbowed, with a weekend sit-in at the airport heading into its second day.
Thousands rallied on Friday at one of the world's busiest travel hubs, with a handful staying through the night and more expected to rejoin the occupation later Saturday.
Demonstrators across the city staged a show of public support for their movement, which began in opposition to a bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China but has morphed into a call for greater democratic freedoms.
Older residents joined "silver hair" rallies to deliver petitions in support of the demonstrators to police and the office of city leader Carrie Lam on Saturday morning.
And hundreds of parents and children gathered for an all-ages family protest under the banner "guard our children's future".
- 'P is for protest' -
Faye Lai attended with her three-year-old niece and said she hoped the demonstration would help children understand the recent tumult.
"We have to tell children about the current situation in Hong Kong, and educate them about what the right kind of society is," Lai told AFP.
"Hong Kong's future is theirs. We are fighting for rights that children should have."
The colourful and calm atmosphere at the rally was a far cry from the increasingly violent confrontations that have marked recent protests.
A leaflet featuring an alternative alphabet was circulated, offering "demonstration" for the letter D, "angry" for A and "protest" for P.
And children and their parents carried balloons denouncing the extradition bill, which has been suspended.
Local authorities have so far resisted calls for the bill's full withdrawal, along with other protester demands including an enquiry into alleged police violence.
Hong Kong's chief executive held that line on Friday.
"I don't think we should just sort of make concessions in order to silence the violent protesters," Lam said.
"What is right for Hong Kong... is to stop the violence, and to say no to the chaotic situation that Hong Kong has experienced in the last few weeks, so that we can move on."
- US, China trade barbs -
Lam warned that the protests were causing economic chaos and that the impact could be worse than the 2003 SARS outbreak that paralysed the city.
Beijing has thrown its support behind Lam and warned protesters that "those who play with fire will perish by it".
China's aviation regulator on Friday ordered Cathay Pacific to turn over information on staff working on mainland-bound flights, warning that all personnel involved with or supporting "illegal protests" would be banned from flying to the mainland or through Chinese airspace.
It was not clear how the ban would be enforced and there was no immediate reaction from Cathay Pacific.
Beijing and Washington meanwhile stepped up a war of words over a US diplomat's meeting with Hong Kong activists.
The meeting was criticised by Beijing in a response that Washington dubbed the behaviour of a "thuggish regime."
Washington on Friday accused pro-Beijing media of publishing "dangerous" reports that identified the diplomat's husband and children.
China's foreign ministry in Hong Kong meanwhile denounced the State Department for "blatant slander" saying its comments had "again exposed US gangster logic."
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