Police arrest 29 people as Hong Kong braces for more protests

Protesters walk along a street during a rally in Hong Kong. (Manan Vatsyayana, AFP)
Protesters walk along a street during a rally in Hong Kong. (Manan Vatsyayana, AFP)

Protesters have begun gathering in a steady rain for Hong Kong's latest pro-democracy march despite the arrest of 29 people after overnight clashes that saw authorities use tear gas to disperse the crowd.

A stream of people carrying umbrellas filed into Kwai Chung sports ground on Sunday along one side of the oval track.

The march is in an outlying community in Hong Kong's New Territories. It is starting near the Kwai Fong rail station that has become a focal point of protesters after police used tear gas in the station earlier this month.

On Saturday, some protesters were seen throwing bricks and petrol bombs at riot police, who responded with tear gas. Other protesters set up roadblocks with bamboo scaffolding and tore up "smart" lamp posts equipped with surveillance cameras, Reuters news agency reported.

Police said in a statement on Sunday they strongly condemned protesters "breaching public peace" and that 19 men and 10 women were arrested.

Those arrested also included the organiser of Saturday's march, Ventus Lau, public broadcaster RTHK reported.

It was the first use of tear gas in more than a week after a series of mostly peaceful demonstrations in the former British colony. 

READ MORE | Google says YouTube campaign targeted Hong Kong protests

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More than 700 people have been arrested since the demonstrations began over two months ago after Hong Kong announced a bill that would make it easier for authorities to extradite people from the former British colony to mainland China.

That bill has since been shelved, but protesters have continued their calls for more democracy in the special administrative region, demonstrating against increased influence of China's mainland on daily life in the Asian financial hub.

They say they are fighting the erosion of the “one country, two systems” arrangement that enshrines a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong since the handover to China.

The protest movement still appears to have broad support, with thousands, including families, lawyers, accountants, taking to the streets in anti-government rallies.

READ MORE | Money, muscle, media: How China has handled Hong Kong protests

Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong's main airline, has become the biggest corporate casualty of the protests, after China demanded it suspend staff involved in, or who support the demonstrations. 

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On Saturday, China released Simon Cheng, a British consulate worker who was held in detention for 15 days for allegedly breaching public security management regulations.

Cheng, who had travelled to the neighbouring city of Shenzhen on a business trip, "confessed to his illegal acts", a statement by Chinese authorities said.

Following Cheng's arrest, the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong barred local stafffrom leaving the city on official business. 

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