Protesters in Hong Kong gathered for demonstrations again on Sunday afternoon, in a bid to take their message to mainland Chinese visitors in the city about a controversial extradition bill that has led to widespread anger.
Demonstrators began assembling around 3:30 p.m. HK/SIN, and set off to march through shopping areas popular with Chinese tourists, before ending up at the West Kowloon station, a new high-speed railway station that connects the city with mainland China.
Initial reports put the number of Sunday protesters in the tens of thousands.
According to local media reports, more than 1,000 police officers are expected to be on standby.
Organizers of Sunday’s march have said they want to explain their movement to people from the mainland, where news coverage of protests that have wracked Hong Kong for the past month has been heavily restricted.
There was no major coverage of the protests in any Chinese state media until last Tuesday — a day after a group of protesters turned violent and broke into the territory’s legislative council building.
CCTV, a mouthpiece for the Chinese government, said the “rare scene” was “condemned by people from all walks of life in Hong Kong,” according to a CNBC translation.
Lau Wing-hong, one of the protest organizers, told Reuters the rally would be peaceful and would finish after demonstrators arrived at their destination near the train station. There were no plans to enter the station, he said.
For nearly three weeks now, political tensions in Hong Kong have risen amid protests over an extradition bill that would have allowed some arrested in the city to be sent for trial in mainland China. The bill has since been suspended, but protesters have called for it to be withdrawn completely.
In the most dramatic turn yet, demonstrators ransacked the city’s main legislative building on Monday before they were driven back by police firing tear gas.
Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997, when it became a special administrative region of China under a “one country, two systems” framework with the territory’s legal system independent from the rest of the country. Many citizens of the financial hub have expressed concern that their civil rights are slowly being eroded under Beijing.
The demonstration on Sunday afternoon — finishing at the railway station — will be the first protest in the Kowloon area, the peninsula across the city’s harbor. Previous events have been on Hong Kong island, the city’s government and business center.
The development of the West Kowloon station has stirred controversy ahead of its opening last September because passengers go through Chinese immigration and customs inside it. Mainland law applies in the area, roughly a quarter of the station.
While convenient for travelers, some opposition lawmakers argued the move violates the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution under which it retained its own legal system and civil liberties after reverting from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
The high-speed rail network connects Hong Kong to 44 cities in the mainland and that will rise to 58 destinations this week.
Hong Kong’s MTR Corporation, which runs the city’s underground railway, said it would shut all entrances to the station, apart from a specific route for passengers, on Sunday.