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Hong Kong protesters hit pause in memory of 9/11

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Protesters deny planning 'massive terror' in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong protesters hit pause in memory of 9/11.

Hong Kong activists called
off protests on Wednesday in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001
attacks on the United States and denounced a Chinese state
newspaper report that they were planning “massive terror” in the
Chinese-ruled city.

Hong Kong has been rocked by months of sometimes violent
unrest, prompted by anger over planned legislation to allow
extraditions to China, but broadening into calls for democracy
and for Communist rulers in Beijing to leave the city alone.

“Anti-government fanatics are planning massive terror
attacks, including blowing up gas pipes, in Hong Kong on
September 11,” the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily said on
its Facebook page, alongside a picture of the hijacked airliner
attacks on the twin towers in New York.

“The 9/11 terror plot also encourages indiscriminate attacks
on non-native speakers of Cantonese and starting mountain
fires.”
The post said “leaked information was part of the strategy
being schemed by radical protesters in their online chat rooms”.

The former British colony of Hong Kong returned to China in
1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees
freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including an independent
legal system, triggering the anger over the extradition bill.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said she will withdraw the
bill but many Hong Kong residents fear Beijing is steadily
eroding the autonomy of the Asian financial hub.

China denies meddling and has accused the United States,
Britain and others of fomenting the unrest.

“We don’t even need to do a fact check to know that this is
fake news,” said one protester, Michael, 24, referring to the
China Daily post. “The state media doesn’t care about its
credibility. Whenever something they claimed to have heard on
WhatsApp or friends’ friends, they will spread it right away.”

The protesters called off action on Wednesday.

“In solidarity against terrorism, all forms of protest in
Hong Kong will be suspended on Sept. 11, apart from potential
singing and chanting,” they said in a statement.

The China Daily report was worrying, said another protester,
Karen, 23. “When they try to frame the whole protest with those
words, it alarms me,” she said. “They are predicting rather than
reporting. I think people calling it off today is a nice move.”

Lam said in a speech on Wednesday that Hong Kong was
grappling with significant challenges, from the trade dispute
between China and the United States to the recent unrest.

“My fervent hope is that we can bridge our divide by
upholding the one country, two systems principle, and the Basic
Law, and through the concerted efforts of the government and the
people of Hong Kong,” she told business leaders.

The Basic Law is Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

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

Cathay Pacific said on Wednesday inbound traffic to Hong
Kong in August fell 38% and outbound traffic 12% compared with a
year earlier, and that it did not anticipate September to be any
less difficult.

Joshua Wong, one of the prominent leaders of the 2014
“Umbrella” pro-democracy movement which brought key streets in
Hong Kong to a standstill for 79 days, said in Berlin that the
fight for democracy was an uphill battle.

“I hope one day not only Hong Kong people, but also people
in mainland China, can enjoy freedom and democracy,” he said.

The protests spread to the sports field on Tuesday, as many
football fans defied Chinese law to boo the national anthem
ahead of a soccer World Cup qualifier against Iran.

Several peaceful protests are planned for the next few days,
combining with celebrations marking the Mid-Autumn Festival.
– Reuters