Pro-democracy protesters rallied outside Britain’s consulate in Hong Kong on Sunday, demanding London do more to protect its former colonial subjects and ramp up pressure on Beijing over sliding freedoms.
Hundreds of demonstrators sang “God Save the Queen” and “Rule Britannia” outside the consulate, waving the Union Jack as well as Hong Kong’s colonial-era flags.
The protest came as another large rally made its way through the city streets on Sunday afternoon in defiance of a ban by police, who warned the gathering was illegal.
“We have a right to go to protests, to the streets, and we have to voice our demands to the government,” a secondary school student at the rally who gave his name as Alvin, said.
But the rally descended into violence when small groups of hardcore activists — known within the movement as “braves” — tried to attack the city’s main government complex. Police fired tear gas and deployed water cannon trucks after Molotov cocktails and rocks were thrown over security barriers surrounding the complex, which has become a frequent flashpoint in the ongoing protests.
As evening set in, protesters retreated, chased by riot officers and water cannon firing blue-dyed water.
The once-stable international hub has been convulsed by weeks of huge, sometimes violent rallies calling for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability.
The movement is the biggest challenge to China’s rule since the city was handed back by Britain in 1997 and shows no sign of ending, with local leaders and Beijing taking a hard line. Under a deal signed with Britain ahead of the city’s handover to China, Hong Kong is allowed to keep its unique freedoms for 50 years.