Thursday 26 December 2019 1:42 pm

Hong Kong protesters march on shopping centres as Christmas clashes continue

Hundreds of protesters descended on shopping centres in Hong Kong today in a bid to disrupt business on the third day of Christmas demonstrations.

The so-called shopping protests have targeted malls in the financial hub since Christmas Eve, with police firing tear gas to disperse protesters and tourists in the busy areas.

Read more: Hong Kong protests to continue throughout Christmas week

While the turnout on Boxing Day was smaller than on previous days, dozens of riot police patrolled shopping centres and kept watch over chanting protesters.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam yesterday said that Christmas celebrations had been “ruined” by “reckless and selfish rioters”.

“Such illegal acts have not only dampened the festive mood but also adversely affected local businesses,” she said in a statement posted on social media.

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The bill has since been withdrawn, but the demonstrations have expanded into a wider pro-democracy movement.

Violent clashes had subsided earlier this month after pro-democracy candidates overwhelmingly won district council elections, but the violence has increased over the festive period.

Police today detained several people at a mall in rural Tai Po, located far north of the city’s financial center, according to local media.

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Some restaurants and shops pulled down their shutters in the malls as protesters, some wearing balaclavas and carrying black flags, marched by. At some dining outlets protesters stuck up stickers and posters which read ‘Free Hong Kong, revolution now’.

In a statement today the government criticised “unprecedented violence” and vandalism committed by some protesters, while insisting that freedoms and human rights remained a top priority.