August 24, 2019
Latest News

French Spiderman and a nonagenarian businessman call for Hong Kong peace

By Shirley Lau

Hong Kong, Aug 16 (efe-epa).- Two prominent figures with wildly different backgrounds - one being a super-rich man and the other a daredevil urban climber - used their own ways to call for peace in Hong Kong Friday, while more protests are being planned for this weekend after the week got off to a violent start in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

As Hong Kong is witnessing the 11th consecutive week of anti-government protests that are getting increasingly violent, Li Ka-shing, the richest man in the Asian financial hub, took the unusual move to make a plea for love and called for an end to violence in front-page ads run in two local newspapers Friday.

This was the first time the retired 91-year-old billionaire, whose words are often deemed powerful enough to pack a punch in Hong Kong, commented on Hong Kong’s worst political crisis in decades that began in June due to a widely unpopular extradition bill.

In one statement printed in the independent Chinese-language paper Ming Pao, Li asked that rage and violence be halted for the sake of love. He also cautioned that “the best cause can lead to the worst outcome.

In the other ad, run in the Beijing-backed Ta Kung Pao, the tycoon quoted an ancient poem that literally translates as: “The melon on the yellow cannot withstand more plucking.”

The phrase was written by a Tang Dynasty crown prince in the seventh century in a subtle reference to his power-hungry mother, empress Wu Zetian, who persecuted her own sons for political power.

Li then issued a statement Friday to explain the ads, saying “the road to Hell is often paved with good intentions” and that “investing in our next generation will always bear fruit for our city.”

Separately, French stuntman Alain Robert, who has made a name for illegally climbing skyscrapers across the world, scaled a tall building in Central, the central business district of Hong Kong, and unfurled a banner showing the Chinese and Hong Kong flags as well as two hands shaking.

In what may be a coincidence, the 68-story skyscraper Robert scaled, Cheung Kong Center, is a property formerly owned by Li Ka-shing, who sold it to a consortium of Hong Kong investors and Chinese buyers in 2017.

Prior to the stunt, Robert, nicknamed the “French Spiderman”, issued a statement saying his climb was “an urgent appeal for peace and consultation between Hong Kong people and their government”.

“Perhaps what I do can lower the temperature and maybe raise a smile. That's my hope anyway,” the 57-year-old said. He was arrested by police after the climb.

Meanwhile, the political temperature in Hong Kong seems unlikely to go down any time soon, as a series of protests are in the pipeline.

A group of netizens and university students will organize a “Stand with Hong Kong, power to the people” rally in a park in Central at 20.00 local time (12.00 GMT) Friday.

Protesters will voice two demands: that the UK should declare “China has breached the Sino-British Joint Declaration”; and that US Congress and the UK Parliament should impose sanctions on persons who “suppress Hong Kong people’s rights and freedoms”.

Other pro-democracy activists intend to stage two protests in two different districts Saturday and another one Sunday, but police have refused to issue a letter of no-objection to all three, effectively making the protests illegal if they go ahead. Organizers of the Sunday protest are appealing their case.

A group of secondary students also announced Friday that nearly 90 percent of about 20,000 students interviewed in a poll supported a plan to go on strike once a week starting from September. Rallies that take the form of civil classes and public speaking are set to be held in different parts of Hong Kong on 2 September.

On the other side of the political and social divide, a pro-Beijing group called Safeguard Hongkong will stage a rally near the Hong Kong government headquarters Saturday afternoon to “fight violence” and “save Hong Kong”.

All these plans came after the ongoing anti-government protest movements escalated to a new level on Sunday, when the city’s embattled police launched an unusually heavy-handed operation to clear protests in various districts.

One young woman was allegedly shot in the eye by a police projectile, one of the numerous bloody incidents that night that prompted over 5,000 protesters to flood Hong Kong International Airport on Monday to continue a three-day sit-in, which was supposed to end last Friday.

The sit-in later degenerated into vehement altercations with protesters besieging two mainland Chinese men suspected to be undercover agents, and a group of black-clad demonstrators clashing violently with police.

Since June, Hong Kong has been rocked by a wave of protests because of the extradition bill, which would have enabled fugitives to be extradited from Hong Kong to mainland China.

Though the bill has been declared “dead” by the city’s top leader Carrie Lam, the civil campaign against it has since morphed into a broader movement seeking to reverse a general decline in freedoms and investigate police brutality.EFE-EPA


Related content

There will be no Tiananmen 2 in Hong Kong, says Chinese state media

Beijing, Aug 16 (efe-epa).- China's central government has not yet intervened in demonstrations in Hong Kong but, if it does so, it will not be a repeat of the Tiananmen crackdown 30 years ago, an editorial published in the official newspaper Global Times said Friday.

The newspaper, known for its nationalist tone, asserted that “China is much stronger and more mature, and its ability to manage complex situations has been greatly enhanced.”

The daily said that Beijing has not decided to intervene by force to crack down on protests in Hong Kong but adds that “this option is clearly at Beijing's disposal.”

“The People's Armed Police assembling in Shenzhen has sent a clear warning to the Hong Kong rioters. If Hong Kong cannot restore the rule of law on its own and the riots intensify, it's imperative then for the central government to take direct actions based on the Basic Law,” the editorial said.

Under Basic Law, the Hong Kong government can ask Chinese troops stationed at various barracks in the city for help to maintain public order.

The article also had words for the United States after several US lawmakers expressed support for the Hong Kong protesters. It said that the US politicians are “blatantly pointing their fingers at China. It's obvious that they fail to understand the era they are living in.”

“Washington will not be able to intimidate China by using the turmoil 30 years ago,” said the editorial, whose mention of the Tiananmen massacre is rare among official media of the Communist regime.

According to the newspaper, the US government has “the ability to fool Hong Kong's radical protesters and incite them to stage a color revolution. But it is unable to influence Beijing's attitude on the Hong Kong issue.”

The Global Times denies that US President Donald Trump has tried to link the Hong Kong protests to negotiations between Washington and Beijing to end the trade war that both economic powers have been waging since March 2018.

It would be a “futile effort,” says the daily, adding that Washington has “no additional cards to play on China” after having announced additional tariffs, which will affect the last set of Chinese imports to the US that were exempt from tariffs.

Toeing the line of the ruling party, which claims that the US is involved in stirring protests in Hong Kong, the editorial ends by asking the city's residents to “recognize Washington's attempts to ruin the city.”

The protests in Hong Kong were sparked by the government's contentious extradition bill, which, according to its opponents, would have enabled fugitives to be transferred from Hong Kong to mainland China to stand trial under the latter's opaque legal system.

Hong Kong was passed to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, although it still retains a degree of independence from Beijing under the "one country, two systems" policy.

According to the handover deal between London and Beijing, this political system – which includes certain legal freedoms not recognized in mainland China – must be preserved until 2047.

The protests, involving hundreds of thousands of people, began in June and have been accompanied by attempts by the police to repress them and prevent protesters from disrupting the normal functioning of the city with strikes and occupations of official buildings, police stations, metro stations and the airport. EFE-EPA


Social media backlash erupts in mainland China against Hong Kong protests

By Jesus Centeno and Victor Escribano

Beijing, Aug 16 (efe-epa).- A viral video showing protesters in Hong Kong assaulting a Chinese citizen was recently posted on Weibo – a Chinese social media service similar to Twitter – under the hashtag “Protect Hong Kong."

The hashtag has been viewed 7.8 billion times and is quite representative of the opinion held by a majority of mainland China's population regarding the wave of mass protests and strikes that have been sweeping over the Chinese special autonomous region and former British colony for the past three months.

The first few weeks of protests in Hong Kong were met with silence from the mainland as Chinese authorities imposed a media blackout.

But as soon as reports emerged of violent clashes with police, the state propaganda machinery sprang into action.

The ban on hashtags linked to the protests in Hong Kong was lifted from Weibo and other popular social media sites such as Douyin (internationally known as TikTok) and news content platform Toutiao, where there has been a huge outpouring of support for Hong Kong's police and authorities.

State-sponsored media outlets have been at the forefront of efforts to stir up the masses: China's main national newspaper, The People's Daily, said in an article on Monday that the violence exhibited by radical protesters was starting to show the "first signs of terrorism," the same stance as the one adopted by Beijing.

State media seem to be more keen on circulating videos of demonstrators throwing objects or Molotov cocktails at police clad in riot gear than on disclosing why the protests began or describing the protesters' demands.

This week, the top 15 trending topics were "All sectors condemn violence in Hong Kong," "The Government responds after a journalist is attacked at Hong Kong airport" and "I also support the Hong Kong Police."

In this last category, which has more than 1.59 billion hits, a large number of users displayed an avatar with the phrase "What a shame for Hong Kong" in English.

Another common slogan is the one made popular by a Global Times journalist who was beaten up by protesters that mistook him for an undercover agent: “I support the Hong Kong police; you can beat me up now,” which many used in their profile image, written in Chinese characters.

It is common to come across opinions such as that of T_Ann, who said that Hong Kong "is and always will be" a part of China.

The common response to videos of some protesters tossing the Chinese national flag into the river was to tell them to leave Chinese territory if they didn't wish to be citizens of the country.

Others accuse the demonstrators of having a colonial mentality and blame them for not having been able to take advantage of having been part of the British Empire and being under the influence of the United States.

The US' alleged interference in the affairs of Hong Kong with the aim of creating chaos in the city is another popular idea that has been milked dry by Chinese official agencies and media.

"What does the US want?" was one of the most shared hashtags this week. Promoted by state broadcaster CCTV, the hashtag exploded in popularity after a picture of an employee of the US consulate in Hong Kong meeting leaders of the city's pro-democracy movement was leaked.

The US government's reaction worries the Chinese: while some have already lost patience and demand Beijing take forceful action on the issue to put an end to the protests, others say that doing so by force "is what the US wants" and support the government, which recently reiterated its confidence that Hong Kong authorities will be able to resolve the problem.

Those who advocate the use of force welcomed the release of a short video showing numerous vehicles of the Chinese paramilitary police moving to Shenzhen, a city bordering Hong Kong; the video has more than 1.7 million likes.

According to the specialized website What's on Weibo, the few who come out in support of the protesters are victims of what in Chinese is known as the "human flesh search engine," which could be translated as those who suffer the wrath of armies of organized trolls.

One woman wrote, "Respect to every person out there striking and protesting!" and a blogger with more than a million followers re-posted that message along with the woman's photo in a bid to attract public attention to her. Some called her a traitor and others went as far as to post her personal details, a practice commonly known as "doxxing."

There are also plenty of accusations directed at Western media outlets, which critics say are portraying protesters as the "good guys" and the cops as the "bad guys."

Some of China's defenders say they can't make any sense of what they call the "angry" Hong Kong youth's actions. EFE-EPA


News history
Brazilian protesters: "Burn Bolsonaro, Not the Amazon"

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- The chant "Burn Bolsonaro, Not the Amazon," rang out Friday in at least a dozen Brazilian cities as thousands poured into...

Ex-Democratic lawmaker predicts young Latinos will unseat Trump

Chicago, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- Former Democratic lawmaker Luis Gutierrez predicts that a peaceful revolution of young Hispanic voters, supported by other...

International community calls for saving of the Amazon, engulfed in fire

Bogota, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- The fires raging in Brazil's Amazon rainforest have fueled global fears of environmental devastation, the climate crisis and the...

G7 summit throws wet blanket on tourist season in Biarritz

Enrique Rubio

Brexit, US trade deal on Abe's agenda ahead of G7 summit

By Enrique Rubio

Restrictions upped in Indian Kashmir as separatist call for protests

By Shah Abbas,

Brazil must abide by EU-Mercosur deal's climate commitments, ambassador says

By Isadora Camargo

Hong Kong activists stage huge human chain

Hong Kong, Aug 23 (EFE).- Tens of thousands of Hong Kong activists formed a human chain spanning dozens of districts in a fresh pro-democracy intervention...

Macron urges Modi to respect rights of Kashmir citizens

Paris, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- The president of France has urged India and Pakistan to avoid escalation of tensions and ensure that the rights and interests of...

Bangkok backpackers' mecca to be revamped by Thai authorities

By Gaspar Ruiz-Canela.

Rohingyas in Myanmar living in 'appalling conditions’, says HRW

By Mratt Kyaw Thu

North Korea 'ready for dialog or standoff' with the US

Seoul, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- North Korea's foreign minister said Friday that his country is ready for both dialog or standoff with the United States, who he...

Tokyo asks Seoul to reconsider termination of military intel-sharing pact

Tokyo, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- Japan on Friday lamented the decision by South Korea to pull out of a bilateral military information-sharing agreement and asked...

US, Vietnam censure China for interfering in Hanoi’s territorial waters

Washington, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- The United States on Thursday accused China of interfering with Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea and...

Trump returns to G7 with Johnson as ally, Iran and China on agenda

Washington, USA, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- The president of the United States will arrive at his second G7 Summit this weekend in Biarritz, France, with the new...

Google deactivates hundreds of YouTube channels linked to Hong Kong protests

San Francisco, USA, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- Google reported Thursday that it had disabled 210 YouTube channels that were part of a coordinated attempt to post...

Mexican president: Legal sabotage being mounted against new airport

Mexico City, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday complained that the political opposition has been engaging in...

4 dead, 100-plus injured by lightning in Poland

Warsaw, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- Four people, including two children, died on Thursday and more than 100 were injured by lightning strikes during a thunderstorm...

Brazil's president doubles down on criticism of NGOs operating in Amazon

Brasilia, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- President Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday that while he did not have evidence that non-governmental organizations were behind the...

Giraffes get protection on international trade for 1st time

Geneva, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- Giraffes were added on Thursday for the first time to a protection mechanism that restricts their international trade in response...

Protect Paradise, the hope to end plastic pollution in Venezuelan beaches

By Héctor Pereira

Hong Kong gov't: protesters ad campaign gross exaggeration

Hong Kong, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- A campaign launched by Hong Kong activists to rally international support for anti-Beijing protests that have gripped the city...

Macron: Irish backstop indispensable

Paris, Aug 22 (efe-epa) .- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Emmanuel Macron in France Thursday for Brexit talks during which the French President...

Italy's president gives parties more time to form gov't

Rome, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- President Sergio Mattarella said Thursday that he will give Italy's political parties until early next week to try to form a new...

I agree Welcome to We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.