HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong's embattled head of government, Carrie Lam, travels to Japan on Monday to recover from the night of violence in which tens of thousands took to the streets More protests planned later in the day.
During a protest march in Hong Kong, China, on October 20, 2019, an anti-government protester throws back a tear gas canister on Tuesday and returns home in the evening.
Hong Kong began a massive cleanup early on Monday after a largely peaceful protest erupted in violent areas on the Kowloon Peninsula, where demonstrators had set fire to shops and sprayed graffiti on streets amid skirmishes with the police.
After two weeks of relative calm in the five-month political crisis, Sunday's large turnout reflected strong support from the anti-government movement, despite police marking the march as illegal because of concerns over public safety.
Families and the elderly went on a peaceful march on the streets of the Asian financial center. Many wore masks or umbrellas to protect their faces even though they were in danger of being arrested.
However, a more radical faction of mainly young demonstrators later joined the riot police.
They turned against banks and other companies believed to be linked to China, damaged some of the business fronts, and set fire to the best shopping and commercial street on Nathan Road in the heart of the Kowloon Peninsula.
The events followed a recent keynote address by Lam, which was supported by Beijing last week, in which they did not respond to the demands of the demonstrators, but tried to reduce the tensions by measures to solve a chronic housing shortage.
Protesters say they will continue to put pressure on the government to comply with their demands for universal suffrage, an independent investigation into police behavior, amnesty for defendants and the description of protesters as rioters.
Subway operator MTR Corp said it would shut down Yuen Long Rural Station at 2 pm, before protesting later on Monday.
Several subway entrances and exits would also be blocked, and the entire network would close at 10:00 pm or two hours earlier to allow time for equipment repair, the operator said.
In the clashes on Sunday, the police dispersed the demonstrators with water cannons, sprayed blue dyes into the crowd, and sent hundreds to flee.
In one case, a water cannon fired a jet at the entrance gate of the Kowloon Mosque, Hong Kong's most important Islamic place of worship.
The blue dye still smeared the street as worshipers gathered for prayer on Monday. Many said they did not understand why the police targeted the mosque because there were only a few nearby.
The mosque entrance and entrance gate had been mistakenly sprayed, the police said in a statement.
"The police respect religious freedom and strive to protect all places of worship," they added.
The mosque incident was the first time that the protests affected religious groups, but the riots have hit much of the economy, retail and tourism in Hong Kong.
Visitor numbers have dropped as tourists stay away, further hindering an economy facing its first recession in a decade.
The government has been working hard to help small and medium-sized businesses as the economy has been hit hard, Hong Kong Finance Secretary Paul Chan said Sunday.
"We are investigating the start of the third round of relief efforts," he wrote in his blog.
Businesses are likely to have to pay the bill for vandalism, as few had insurances for insurrection, industry experts said.
Reporting by Sarah Wu and Twinnie Siu; Letter from Farah Master and Michael Perry