Asia-Pacific

Pro-China protesters gather in Hong Kong as violent clashes escalate

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Pro-China protesters have gathered in Hong Kong as increasingly violent anti-government demonstrations reach universities where protesters erected barricades.

Hundreds of pro-China protesters have rallied in Hong Kong to denounce increasingly violent anti-government unrest in the Chinese-ruled city and support the police who have become a prime target of attack.

The former British colony has been embroiled in more than five months of demonstrations, with pro-democracy protesters angry at perceived Communist Party meddling in a city guaranteed its freedoms when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Pro-democracy protesters walk outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
Pro-democracy protesters walk outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
EPA

Protesters are also furious at perceived police brutality, a charge police deny.

Waving Chinese and Hong Kong flags, pro-China protesters gathered by the city's legislature and police headquarters on Saturday. Some held up posters stating "Police we stand with you" while others chanted "Support the police".

Pro-China protesters have gathered before, but in far smaller numbers than those angry at Communist Party rulers in Beijing.

Saturday's crowd was a mix of young and elderly, some of whom had brought their children along to the rally.

Hong Kong is in its sixth month of mass protests, which were originally triggered by a now withdrawn extradition bill.
Hong Kong is in its sixth month of mass protests, which were originally triggered by a now withdrawn extradition bill.
EPA

"From the bottom of our hearts, we believe it is the correct thing to support the police in fighting the rioters for Hong Kong citizens," said a 49-year-old housewife surnamed Kong.

"A lot of people keep silent, afraid of the rioters. It's time for all the people who are silent to step up and say that's enough."

Anti-China students and activists have barricaded at least five campuses in the last week, stockpiling petrol bombs, catapults, bows and arrows and other weapons.

Police have kept their distance for more than two days, but many observers are afraid of what happens if and when they move in.

A 70-year-old street cleaner died on Thursday after being hit on the head by one of several bricks police said had been thrown by "masked rioters".

On Monday, police blamed a "rioter" for dousing a man in petrol and setting him on fire. The victim is in critical condition.

Students use umbrellas as a shield during a clash with police at the Chinese University in Hong Kong.
Students use umbrellas as a shield during a clash with police at the Chinese University in Hong Kong.
AAP

On the same day, police shot a protester in the abdomen. He was in stable condition.

Many pro-police protesters laid white flowers outside the government office to pay their respects to the cleaner.

Others applauded and cheered the police, some bowing and giving thumbs up as they walked past riot police on duty.

A student holds a molotov cocktail during clashes at the Chinese University.
A student holds a molotov cocktail during clashes at the Chinese University.
AAP

Hong Kong universities, in a joint statement, said they regretted the fact that "the government response had so far not been effective".

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