Hong Kongers Go on General Strike as Pro-Democracy Protests Escalate

By Penny Zhou

Pro-Democracy protesters over 20 sectors have resorted to a new tactic — going on a general strike in Hong Kong, as demonstrations enter their ninth consecutive week.

The general strike on Monday, August 5, partially paralyzed Hong Kong’s transportation system. More than 200 flights were canceled with 3000 airport employees joining the strike. Several subway and rail lines stopped operations entirely.

“The Hong Kong people have marched so many times but the government still chooses to ignore and not take any action, ” 31-year-old Hong Kong resident, Carey Ng told Reuters TV, “they don’t have an answer for the Hong Kong people. So, I think if we don’t strike today, the government will never listen to us.”

More than 420 demonstrators have been arrested since June when the turmoil started. Initial protests against a bill that allows extradition to mainland China has broadened into calls for greater democracy, as frustrations over eroded freedom under Chinese rule continue to grow.

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters rallied later in the afternoon on Monday across Hong Kong to support the strike.

Riot police later fired tear gas to disperse the crowd as protesters occupied major roads, parks, and shopping malls demanding the withdrawal of an unpopular bill and investigations into police misconduct, among other demands.

Monday’s general strike follows widespread rallies over the weekend.

“I appreciate every single Hong Konger, who is willing to come out on the street to speak up for their home,” Ng Wing Tak, organizer of the Saturday march at Mong Kok, told NTD.

“We only have five people on the team. To organize such a large scale march is not easy. I feel thankful for my team members,” he said.

Some protesters set fire to a trash can outside a police station. Police fired tear gas into crowds.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam addressed the media on Monday for the first time in two weeks. She said the city-wide strike is “endangering the one country, two systems.”

“If we continue to allow these violent protesters to make use of the fugitive offenders bill and these demands to conceal their ulterior motives, that is going to push Hong Kong to the verge of a very dangerous situation,” Lam said.

She also refused to step down, saying the government will be resolute in maintaining law and order.

Pro-democracy lawmakers say Carrie Lam’s comments turn cause and effect upside down.

Claudia Mo, a pro-democracy legislator, called Lam’s government “morally corrupt” and that she is “using a false logic to try to twist what’s been happening here, by turning causes and effects upside down.”

“Pretending that all this so-called ‘escalated violence’ was delivered by the protesters when we in Hong Kong know for a fact that police brutality is what is causing the sharpest hostility among Hong Kong people vis-a-vis the force,” she said.