Wednesday 1 January 2020 11:04 am

Hong Kong police fire tear gas during mass New Year protest

Hong Kong began 2020 with yet more clashes between protesters and police, with the latter firing several rounds of tear gas at crowds during a march that drew tens of thousands of people.

The semi-autonomous city has been embroiled in protests for more than six months. What were originally demonstrations against an extradition law have evolved to become about police brutality and democracy.

Read more: Hong Kong protesters march on shopping centres as Christmas clashes continue

Today’s march had been a peaceful one, with protesters demanding more concessions from the government, which is led by Carrie Lam. Yet they soon deteriorated into tense scenes, with police responding by firing tear gas to disperse protestors in the Wanchai district.

The protesters quickly formed into a line of defence. Some threw petrol bombs at the police, according to Reuters.

The long-running protests have shaken the prosperous city. It officially entered a recession for the first time in a decade at the end of October, after its economy contracted for a second successive quarter.

The financial hub’s economy shrank by 3.2 per cent in the three months to the end of September, much more than the 0.6 per cent contraction that had been estimated.

Lam, Hong Kong’s beleaguered chief executive, said at the time that she expected the city to record negative economic growth in 2019.

Last week Lam said that Christmas celebrations had been “ruined” by “reckless and selfish rioters”.

Read more: Hong Kong protests to continue throughout Christmas week

She said of the protests: “Such illegal acts have not only dampened the festive mood but also adversely affected local businesses.”

The protests began six months ago over a controversial new bill that critics saw as a tightening of Beijing’s control over the territory. The bill has since been withdrawn, but the demonstrations have shown little sign of stopping.

(Image credit: Getty)