HONG KONG - Hong Kong police have arrested at least 22 people during a series of protests targeting a senior Chinese official visiting the city, authorities said Tuesday.
The city has been plunged into political crisis after pro-democracy activists vowed to take over the streets of the city’s financial district following Beijing’s refusal to grant citizens full universal suffrage. In the kind of scenes that would be unthinkable on the mainland Li Fei has been dogged by angry demonstrations throughout his visit to the former British colony - including lawmakers heckling him during a speech on Monday.
Li is in town to explain China’s controversial proposal to control who stands for the top post in the city’s next leadership election, a decision that has prompted pro-democracy activists to embark on what they describe as a new ‘era.
Officers made 19 arrests outside the luxury Grand Hyatt Hotel in the Wan Chai district of the city late Monday. Eighteen of the protestors were arrested for ‘unlawful assembly’, the statement said. The other activist was arrested for obstructing a police officer. Earlier in the day, police used pepper spray on demonstrators at a convention centre on the outskirts of the city where Li gave a speech that was punctuated by regular interruptions by protesters and pro-democracy lawmakers.
Three people were subsequently arrested for disorder in a public place, police told AFP, adding that they were still being detained as of early afternoon on Tuesday. Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying said Tuesday his government supports the reform proposal put forward by the standing committee of Beijing’s National People’s Congress while admitting ‘some’ people were not satisfied.
But he called on detractors think hard about campaigning against the city’s first shot at limited universal suffrage. ‘We should ask ourselves... what is the relationship between Hong Kong and the central government?’ Leung said. ‘Do we want universal suffrage in chief executive elections in 2017 and thereafter?’