The crowd lining up recently on a cold, dark Hong Kong street wasn’t part of the anti-government protest movement that rocked the semi-autonomous Chinese territory for months.
Their demand: surgical masks, now in short supply as fears grow over a new virus that has claimed more than 1,000 lives across the border in mainland China and one in Hong Kong.
The city’s often-tumultuous street protests had already slowed over the past two months. Now they have ground to an almost complete halt as attention focuses on how to avoid a recurrence of the SARS pandemic, which killed about 300 people in Hong Kong in 2002-03.
But with most of the protest demands unmet, it’s too early to declare the movement dead.
The frequency and ferocity of street protests eased after a landslide victory by the pro-democracy bloc in November’s district council elections. The vote was a sharp rebuke of Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s rule and ushered in a period of relative calm.
Hundreds of thousands of people packed streets on Dec. 8 for a peaceful march as they sought to press the government on demands for full democracy and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality in suppressing earlier protests.The protesters returned on Jan. 1 as they sought to maintain their momentum into 2020. The march degenerated into familiar violence, with police firing tear gas and a water cannon and black-clad protesters throwing gasoline bombs. More than 400 people were detained.Occasional, smaller demonstrations have taken place since then, including lunch-time rallies by slogan-chanting […]
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