Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters swarmed a Hong Kong shopping mall near the border of mainland China Saturday, and were met by pepper spray-wielding police, who arrested about a dozen people in the latest flare-up.
The Sheung Shui mall, which is just over the border from the Chinese city of Shenzhen, is popular with so-called parallel traders who buy large volumes of duty-free goods in Hong Kong and then sell them on the mainland. Hong Kong residents blame them for overcrowding and pushing up prices and rents.
It’s the latest shopping center targeted in the demonstrators’ weeks-long campaign to pressure the government by disrupting economic activity. The black-clad protesters, many wearing masks, marched through the mall chanting “Go back to China.”
“Our intention is to make shops close their gates. There are many parallel traders, we want to cast them out,” Kelly, a 17-year-old protester wearing a mask, told Reuters.
The Hong Kong protests began more than six months ago in response to a since-withdrawn extradition bill, and have since expanded to become a broader pro-democracy movement.
More protests are planned in the next few days, including a countdown to New Year’s Day and a march on Jan. 1 organized by the civil human rights front that could attract thousands.