Hong Kong protesters clash in mall scuffle

Protests are planned at malls and outside the British consulate in Hong Kong over the weekend.
Protests are planned at malls and outside the British consulate in Hong Kong over the weekend.

Baton-wielding Hong Kong police have moved in to break up scuffles between pro-China protesters and those denouncing perceived Chinese meddling at the start of rallies planned for across the city after months of often violent unrest.

The pro-China demonstrators chanted "Support the police" and "China, add oil" at a shopping mall in the Kowloon Bay area, adapting a line used by anti-Hong Kong government protesters and loosely meaning: "China, keep your strength up".

"Hong Kong is China," one woman shouted at passersby who shouted obscenities in return in an angry pushing and pulling stand-off, marked more by the shouting than violence.

The clashes spilled out on to the streets, with each confrontation captured by dozens of media and onlookers on their smart phones. Police detained several people.

Protesters complaining about perceived Chinese interference in the former British colony came out in their hundreds across the territory on Friday, singing and chanting on the Mid-Autumn Festival, in contrast to the violence of many previous weekends when police have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.

They have also gathered in malls, with occasional scuffles with flag-carrying China supporters, often denouncing police for perceived brutality.

Anti-government protesters were also gathering in the downtown Central district and hundreds were marching in the northwestern New Territories district of Tin Shui Wai.

The spark for the anti-government protests was a now-withdrawn extradition bill and concerns that Beijing is eroding civil liberties, but many young protesters are also angry about sky-high living costs and a lack of job prospects.

The bill would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts, but the protests have now broadened into calls for greater democracy.

China says it is committed to the "one country, two systems" arrangement and denies meddling in Hong Kong's affairs.

Australian Associated Press