Asia-Pacific

Protesters take to Hong Kong's hills for latest human chain demonstrations

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Hong Kong protesters are planning sit-ins at malls and to rally outside the British consulate to demand China honours the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters have taken to the hills to form flashlight-carrying human chains, using the colourful Mid-Autumn Festival as a backdrop to the latest in more than three months of sometimes violent demonstrations.

The protests, on a day when families traditionally gather to gaze at the moon and eat mooncakes while children swing colourful lanterns from the end of sticks, came after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam promised to focus on housing and jobs to try to end the turmoil.

There were some scuffles late at night on Friday and a few people taken away by police, but no reported widespread violence.

Pro-democracy protesters form a human chain and wave laser pointers, phones and lanterns in the air on Victoria Peak.
Pro-democracy protesters form a human chain and wave laser pointers, phones and lanterns in the air on Victoria Peak.
Getty Images

Lam, who said she caused "unforgivable havoc" by igniting the crisis and would quit if she had the choice, said in a Facebook post her government would increase the supply of housing in the Chinese-ruled city.

"Housing and people's livelihoods are the main priorities," Lam said. "The government will add to housing supply measures which will be continuously put in place and not missed."

Hong Kong has some of the world's most expensive real estate and many young people say the city's housing policy is unfair, benefiting the rich while forcing the less well-off to live with their parents or rent "shoe box" apartments at exorbitant prices.

Sun Hung Kai Properties, which reported its earnings on Thursday, said the current unrest was a wake-up call to both the government and private companies to build more housing.

A pro-democracy protester points a high powered laser pointer at other protesters who had gathered on Lion Rock.
A pro-democracy protester points a high powered laser pointer at other protesters who had gathered on Lion Rock.
Getty Images AsiaPac

Financial Secretary Paul Chan told reporters a new vacancy tax aims to push developers to launch completed apartments on to the market as soon as possible.

As darkness fell on Friday night, protesters armed with flashlights, mobile phones and lanterns gathered at Victoria Peak and Lion Rock.

They lined the path running along the north face of the Peak, looking across the harbour to Lion Rock in the distance, with mainland China beyond.

Protesters gathered in their hundreds across the territory, singing and chanting, in contrast to the violence of many previous weekends when police have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.

"Today, there's not many here because we have an event in every district, and because this area is not a residential area, it's a working area full of offices," said protester Jason Liu in the Admiralty district of government offices and hotels.

At lunchtime on Friday, hundreds of pro-Beijing supporters packed into a shopping mall waving China flags and singing the Chinese national anthem.

Pro-Beijing protesters are seen waving a large Chinese flag inside a shopping mall in Hong Kong.
Pro-Beijing protesters are seen waving a large Chinese flag inside a shopping mall in Hong Kong.
NurPhoto

Sit-ins at shopping malls are also planned over the weekend.

Activists also plan to gather outside the British consulate on Sunday to demand that China honours the Sino-British Joint Declaration that was signed in 1984, laying out Hong Kong's post-1997 future.

China says Hong Kong is now its internal affair. It denies meddling in Hong Kong and has accused the United States, Britain and others of fomenting the unrest.

Britain says it has a legal responsibility to ensure China abides by its obligations under the Joint Declaration.

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