HK protesters urge G-20 summit to raise plight with China

Shady statement: Bystanders looking at barricades and umbrellas attached to an entry gate to the Hong Kong police headquarters. — AFP

Hong Kong: Hong Kong protesters marched to major consulates in a call for Group of 20 (G-20) nations to confront fellow member China over sliding freedoms in the financial hub at a summit in Japan.

The semi-autonomous city has been shaken by huge demonstrations this month, with protesters demanding the withdrawal of a Bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

The massive rallies are the latest manifestation of growing fears that China is stamping down on the city’s unique freedoms and culture.

China has said it will not allow discussion of the protests at the G-20 summit in Osaka today and tomorrow, although US President Donald Trump planned to raise the issue with President Xi Jinping.

“China will never agree to G-20 discussing the Hong Kong issue. This is completely China’s internal affairs,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednes­day.

Nonetheless, Hong Kong protesters have seized on the impending gathering to raise awareness of their movement and pile pressure on both Xi and the city’s pro-Beijing leader, Carrie Lam.

Throughout Wednesday, around 1,000 demonstrators – many holding “Please liberate Hong Kong” placards or chanting “Help Hong Kong” – shuttled between the city’s G-20 consulates to hand in petitions and plead with envoys to lobby their governments back home.

Come evening, a larger crowd of about 4,000 protesters gathered at a park in the commercial district.

In the early hours of yesterday, hundreds gathered outside police headquarters in the Wan Chai district, where they piled up umbrellas and barricades against the facility.

One protester, who gave his surname as Lau, said the international community had a right to talk about Hong Kong’s future because of its role as a major global trading hub.

“We need to keep our uniqueness so that we can serve the international economy,” he said.

Protesters have also launched a crowdfunding campaign to take out advertisements in major financial newspapers, hoping they may come across G-20 leaders’ desks during the summit, which groups the world’s major advanced and developing economies. — AFP

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