Huge crowds march peacefully in Hong Kong

Hundreds of thousands are holding another day of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, amid increasingly severe warnings by Beijing.

Activists and police have clashed over the past 10 weeks, but this weekend’s rallies have so far been peaceful.

The protests were sparked by an extradition bill, which has since been suspended by the Hong Kong government.

China, which has built up security forces in nearby Shenzhen, has likened the protests to terrorist activity.

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Its chargé d’Affaires in London has warned that Beijing “will not sit by and watch” if the Hong Kong government loses control of the situation.

The protest organisers, the Civil Rights Human Front, were denied authorisation for a march through the city, but police allowed Sunday’s demonstration in Victoria Park.

The South China Morning Post newspaper tweeted a time lapse video of the park filling up.

One of the marchers, named as Mr Wong, told the BBC’s Lam Cho Wai at the scene: “We have been fighting for more than two months, but our government has no response at all. We could just come out again and again.”

Large crowds also marched in the nearby areas of Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Wan Chai in defiance of the police ban.

Organisers of today’s rally in Hong Kong say that 1.7 million people attended. The authorities have not given a figure.

Heavy driving rain did not dissuade people of all ages from attending, filling Victoria Park then spilling out to occupy major roads in all directions.

Subway railway stations were forced to close after being clogged with protesters heading to the rally.

Though permission to march was not granted by the authorities, the sheer weight of numbers around the park has meant that activists had to move into Hong Kong’s streets, spreading across eight lanes at a time.

After increasingly violent clashes in recent weeks, there’s been a concerted effort to win back broad public support in the push for democratic reforms here by placing a greater focus on larger peaceful gatherings.

The violence has intensified in the past few weeks, and police have frequently fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

Last weekend activists occupied the airport, leading to hundreds of flights being cancelled. There were further clashes with police on Tuesday. –BBC

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