Conflict flares again during Hong Kong's Golden Week

Protesters launch demonstrations despite police arrests for flouting coronavirus prevention measures

HK police trapped inside the defense line; then pepper-sprayed journalists away. (Studioincendo photo) 

HK police trapped inside the defense line; then pepper-sprayed journalists away. (Studioincendo photo) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Hong Kong protesters launched a number of demonstrations in the semi-autonomous city on Friday (May 1), during the four-day Golden Week holiday.

A "Sing With You" protest saw people rallying at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin District on Friday. Before the demonstration kicked off at 7:30 p.m., people started chanting slogans and displayed signs around the mall.

About 30 minutes later, armed police tore into the building and put up orange barricade tape. The police warned the crowd with speakers that it was violating social-distancing measures, before breaking up the rally. Several people were fined for taking part in the mass gathering, StandNews reported.

Civic Party member Zeng Jian-fong (曾建峰), who received two fines, accused police of abusing social distancing orders. He claimed that when police asked for his identification papers, one officer said to him: "I am just messing with you."

As police forced people to leave the building, journalists were accused of getting in the way. "Could you please maintain professionalism," one officer was reported as saying. Two district councilors were reportedly pepper sprayed during the confrontation.

"I saw Zeng was interrogated by the police and tried to approach and understand the situation, however, the police fended us off with barricade tape and suddenly sprayed my assistants and me," Councilor Leticia Wong told Apple Daily.

This year's Golden Week is different owing to the coronavirus, as there are fewer Chinese tourists. Though local merchants have suffered huge losses they were called on to unite and support the "Yellow Economic Circle" — which segregates merchants into pro-democracy or pro-government.

People also attempted to link May 1, or Labor Day, with the pro-democracy slogan, "Five demands, not one less," with the term, "Five One" (51) becoming a symbol of anti-communism.