Hong Kong police used a water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters who drop gas bombs on government buildings on Sunday, as months of sometimes violent demonstrations do not even give hope that the protesters surrendered.
Some protesters threw bricks at police outside the Chinese People’s Liberation Army base in the city’s Admiralty district, and tore down and set fire to a red banner proclaiming the 70th anniversary on Oct. 1 of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, in a direct challenge to Beijing.
One water cannon caught fire after being hit by a petrol bomb. The water cannon fired blue jets of water, used elsewhere in the world to help identify protesters later.
“Radical protesters are currently occupying Harcourt Road in Admiralty, vandalizing Central Government Offices and repeatedly throwing petrol bombs inside,” police said in a statement.
Thousands of protesters, many clad in black masks, caps and shades to obscure their identity, raced through the streets of the financial hub in cat-and-mouse tactics with police, setting street fires and blocking roads in the heart of the city.
Authorities moved quickly to douse the fires and police fired volleys of tear gas to disperse protesters, including in the bustling shopping and tourist district of Causeway Bay.
Violence erupted in the district of Fortress Hill on the east of the island as men in white T-shirts, some wielding rods, clashed with anti-government activists.
A heavy police presence could be seen in and around subway stations. Rail operator MTR Corp has become a prime target of vandalism, with activists angry that it closes stations during protests and prevents demonstrators from gathering.
Shops in key protest areas once again shuttered early as more than three months of demonstrations continued to take a toll on business.
The Airport Authority said on Sunday passenger numbers fell 12.4% year-on-year in August to six million. Protesters last month jammed the airport arrivals hall, leading to canceled or delayed flights as they sought to draw world attention to their fight for democracy.
But while chaotic scenes of protesters clashing with police have been beamed live to the world – at times under gleaming skyscrapers in the heart of the financial center – life for many in the Chinese-ruled territory proceeds relatively normally.