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Thousands march in Hong Kong and close four subway stations

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Anti-Hong Kong protesters staged a protest in an industrial area of ​​the Chinese-ruled city under the eyes of police, some wearing new black masks, while China released a British consulate official whose arrest sparked more tension.

The airport was operating normally, as were the roads and railways leading to it, despite the protesters’ plans to apply a “pressure test” to transport networks and disrupt traffic after weeks of unrest.

Authorities obtained a court order not to demonstrate at the airport, which was closed for some time last week after protesters rallied in the main building for several days, causing about 1,000 flights to take off and sparking sporadic clashes with police.

Underground stations close to the densely populated Kwan Tung district in the east of the Kowloon peninsula have been shut down, but thousands of people, though carrying sun umbrellas in the former British colony, crowded the streets.

Some protesters sat on the ground to prevent metal gates from shutting down Kwan Tong Station, while others scolded staff for stopping trains. Some protesters erected roadblocks using bamboo scaffolding. Shops in the subway stations were closed.

It was not immediately clear why the police were wearing the masks and some bystanders wondered whether they were to protect against the green lasers used by protesters at dusk or whether they signaled an imminent clash.

The protests began in protest at an ongoing pending bill that would have handed over criminal suspects to the Chinese mainland for trial. But protests widened to include calls for democracy, prompting the city into an unprecedented crisis and posing a direct challenge to Beijing’s Communist Party leaders.

The protesters say they are protesting against the undermining of the “one country, two systems” principle, an arrangement that has secured much of Hong Kong’s autonomy since Britain returned it to Chinese rule in 1997.

In front of Hong Kong Radio and Television headquarters, a smaller-scale anti-government protest was held in which some protesters waved the Hong Kong flag.

– British consular officer released –

Police in Shenzhen, across the border from Hong Kong, said on Tuesday that British consular officer Simon Cheng was detained for 15 days for violating public security laws.

She said she was released as scheduled on Saturday and his legal rights and interests had been respected. She also said Zheng confessed to the accusations against him, a phrase commonly used by Chinese police, although Zheng did not get a chance to defend himself in court.

Zheng’s family said on his Facebook page that he had now returned to Hong Kong.

The closure of the subway stations by the operator of the trains came after it was criticized in Chinese state media, including the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, for allowing “hooligans” to flee aboard trains after clashes with police.

The company also said it had obtained a court order to prevent protesters from disrupting train services. If there are “clashes, vandalism or any other acts of violence”, train services at stations experiencing such acts may cease immediately, the company said.

At the airport, those entering the building had to show valid boarding passes and passports. Train stations serving the airport as well as roads leading to the airport were clearly empty early on Saturday, with little police on some of the roads leading to it.

Nearly three months after the protests began, there is no sign of a halt. On Friday, thousands of protesters formed human chains around the city in a peaceful protest described as the “Hong Kong chain”.

Organizers said 135,000 people took part in the protest, drawing inspiration from the Baltic chain in 1989, when around 2 million people gathered in human form across the three Baltic states to protest Soviet rule. Any such protest is now called the “Baltic chain”.

The authorities have so far refused to meet any of the five main demands of the protesters, including an independent investigation into police resorting to repressive means, withdrawing the draft extradition of suspects to China permanently and implementing full democracy.

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