Protest in Hongkong
Protest in Hongkong

Hong Kong: Hong Kong democracy activists kicked off a weekend of fresh rallies on Saturday in a major test for the movement following criticism over an airport protest earlier this week and as concerns mount over Beijing's next move.

The new marches came as thousands of pro-government supporters many waving Chinese flags gathered in a park to condemn their opponents and support the police, a stark illustration of the polarisation now coursing through the city.

Ten weeks of demonstrations have plunged the international finance hub into crisis, with communist-ruled mainland China taking an increasingly hardline tone, including labelling the more violent protester actions "terrorist-like".

Democracy activists are billing the weekend rallies as a way to show Beijing and the city's unelected leaders that their movement still enjoys broad public support, despite increasingly violent tactics deployed by a minority of hardcore protesters that have cast a shadow. On Tuesday, protesters blocked passengers from boarding flights at the city's airport and later assaulted two men they accused of being Chinese spies.

The images damaged a movement that until then had largely only targeted the police or government institutions, and prompted some soul-searching among protesters. China's propaganda apparatus seized on the violence, with state media churning out a deluge of damning articles, pictures and videos.

State media also ran images of military personnel and armoured personnel carriers across the border in Shenzhen, prompting the United States to warn Beijing against sending in troops, which analysts say would be a reputational and economic disaster for China. Saturday's rallies began with thousands of teachers marching through torrential rain in support of the largely youth-led protests.


Calls to boycott 'Mulan' after star backs HK police

Hong Kong: Disney's live-action remake of the animated film "Mulan" is facing calls for a boycott, after its star voiced support for Hong Kong's police force, who anti-government protesters have accused of using excessive force. Chinese actress Liu Yifei, a naturalised US citizen, reposted a viral pro-police comment on Chinese social media platform Weibo, the BBC reported on Saturday. Liu had shared a Weibo post from the government-run Beijing newspaper People's Daily that read: "I also support Hong Kong police. You can beat me up now." The post adds in English: "What a shame for HK." The quote referred to what are said to be the words of a reporter for the state newspaper Global Times, who was attacked by protesters at HK's airport earlier this week after being accused of being an undercover police agent. She received widespread support on the platform, which is subject to censorship.

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