Hong Kong police arrested nearly 200 people in the culmination of a day of protests in which tens of thousands of residents joined a massive march to push for democracy.
Police in the former British colony on Wednesday arrested 196 people for unlawful assembly and for preventing authorities from carrying out their duties.
The arrests followed a demonstration on Tuesday that saw huge crowds marching through Hong Kong’s streets to demand full democratic reforms. The protest was Hong Kong’s biggest street demonstration in a decade, fuelled by fears that Beijing is tightening its grip on the territory.
Organisers put the number of marchers at 510,000, according to local media. The police estimate was 98,600, which would still be the largest number at any public protest since 2004.
Hong Kong University researchers put the number at between 154,000 and 172,000.
The peaceful street protest, held on the 17th anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to China, follows an unofficial referendum organised by pro-democracy group Occupy Central on how Hong Kong should introduce universal suffrage. The poll drew almost 800,000 votes but was condemned by Beijing as “illegal”.
Hong Kong has been promised universal suffrage in 2017 when it chooses the next chief executive, the effective mayor.
Under the present system, only 1,200 people drawn from the city’s elite choose the chief executive. Many fear that despite China’s pledge, the list of candidates will still be chosen by a select few and vetted by Beijing. On Tuesday many marchers held placards displaying the number 689, the number of votes that gave incumbent chief executive Leung Chun-ying victory in 2012.
Tensions were further inflamed when China published its first white paper on Hong Kong last month, which stated that the territory’s independence was not an “inherent power” but one enjoyed only with the permission of Beijing.
“People are very much annoyed by the white paper,” said Chan Kin-man, an Occupy Central leader. “We believe that Beijing has broken its promise.”
Street marches are a regular fixture in Hong Kong, often coinciding with the July 1 national holiday. Tens of thousands also turn out each year to mark the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre with a candlelit vigil.
而香港大学(Hong Kong University)研究人员给出的游行人数在15.4万至17.2万之间。