HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong police arrested 38 people after a group of about 400 demonstrators clashed with police, in the latest sign of tension caused by China’s influence in the city.
Protesters in Yuen Long, in the New Territories just a stone’s throw from mainland China, chanted “Cancel the multiple-entry permit,” and “Topple the Chinese Communist Party,” as they complained about so-called parallel traders, who make profits by selling across the border goods bought in Hong Kong.
Demonstrators used garbage bins to block the main street in the area, halting traffic. Police used pepper spray to deter some people. A woman protester was bleeding from the nose as police dragged her away from the scene.
On Monday afternoon, a police spokesman said a total of 38 people aged 13 to 74 had been arrested for offences ranging from the possession of offensive weapons to assault and disorder.
The demonstration mirrored others in recent weeks targeting mainland Chinese visitors.
The protests have tapped a seam of resentment against China, resulting in calls for greater Hong Kong nationalism and even independence, nearly three months after police cleared away the last of the city’s pro-democracy street protests.
“We can’t walk, because all their goods pile up like mountains on the streets,” said one of the protesters, King Lee, a 23-year-old Yuen Long resident. “We should not endure this silently.”
The Sunday protests also fanned the discontent of other residents unhappy with the disruption to their daily routine.
“Why are there so many mainlanders shopping in Hong Kong? It’s because our products are good,” said another resident of the area, Tom Lau, 50, who jeered at the protesters.
“Why oppose them (the shoppers)? They are just protesting for the sake of protesting. They are just stirring up trouble. They march with the colonial flag, but we are Chinese people.”
Reporting by Venus Wu and Bobby Yip; Additional reporting by Pak Yiu and Clare Baldwin; Writing by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Paul Tait and Clarence Fernandez