Hong Kong is currently in its fifth month of protests, which have plunged it into its biggest political crisis in decades and taken a heavy toll on the economy. The center of tourism is Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district. The area was in the center this weekend when police used teargas to break up protests. The protesters started shouting obscenities at the police before sporadic scuffles turned into all-out brawls. At the same time, tourists staying in the many hotels in the district went their way but were advised to stay away from the crowds.
Police were forced to use teargas, pepper spray, and some rubber bullets in at least three different locations in the district as clashes escalated. The Hong Kong Tourism Board has been working hard to separate visitors from protesters and provides active feedback and communication on its website.
Security forces had earlier warned protesters against holding unsanctioned demonstrations in the district over concerns for the safety of tourists visiting the area.
Hong Kong protesters, witnesses said, built barricades and blocked roads during their routine rallies, with some using metal fencing from nearby luxury malls to block the “Avenue of Stars,” a famous waterfront promenade in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Police said some of their officers were attacked with “hard objects and umbrellas.”
The city has been rocked by a spate of turbulent street protests since June when people — outraged by a proposed extradition bill — descended on the districts across the city. The bill was later withdrawn, but the protests continued and took on an increasingly violent form.
Hong Kong has been governed under a “one-country, two-system” model since the city — a former British colony — was returned to China in 1997.