4 Oct 2014

Arrests in Hong Kong as rival protesters clash

Thousands of rival protesters face off in Hong Kong resulting in 19 arrests, prompting fears that the unrest could take a violent turn.

Supporters of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing government rallied next to pro-democracy protesters on Saturday night, in the working class neighbourhood of Mong Kok.

After a week of fairly peaceful demonstrations, the mood turned ugly the night before, in an area notorious for being the home of the underground criminal gang, the triads. Nineteen people have been arrested, including eight suspected gang members.

Tens of thousands of protesters have staged sit-ins across Hong Kong over the past week, demanding the city’s pro-Beijing leader Leung Chun-ying step down and China reverse a decision made in August to handpick the candidates for Hong Kong’s 2017 leadership election.

Channel 4 News Asia Correspondent John Sparks reports from Hong Kong:

On Saturday night, student leaders delivered a series of speeches to a large crowd at the main protest site in central Hong Kong.

The speeches underlined their commitment to peaceful civil disobedience after ugly scenes at another site under student occupation in Mong Kok.

Nineteen people were arrested - including eight members of criminal gangs known as the triad - after an angry group tried to sweep aside the student protesters occupying a busy junction.

Earlier today however, the students and hundreds of fellow pro-democracy protesters flooded the area in a show of strength. And there were violent scenes as they lashed out at the small number of critics who dared to voice their views.

The demonstrations present the Chinese authorities with one of the greatest political challenges since the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

On Thursday, the Hong Kong chief executive agreed to talk with protesters but refused to resign. Later, the protesters “shelved” the talks after scuffles with pro-government activists.

For the latest updates, follow our team in Hong Kong on Twitter: @c4sparks @Julie_OConnor38 @raulgaab