Hong Kong protesters appear in court on riot charges

Edward Leung Sheung Shui

Edward Leung Sheung Shui

Supporters gather outside the Eastern Courts to support the arrested anti-extradition bill protesters who face rioting charges, in Hong Kong, China July 31, 2019.

Dozens of people have been charged with rioting over their alleged role in the Hong Kong protests. All were released on bail and are due back in court on September 25.

China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday claimed the recent protests in Hong Kong are "the work of the US", adding that the United States owes the world an explanation.

The 44 were released on bail until September and most were given a midnight curfew.

Those charged included 13 students, seven clerks, a pilot from the city's main airline, Cathay Pacific, teachers, nurses, workers and salesmen.

A 16-year-old girl was also among the group.

The official, speaking anonymously, told reporters that the nature of the congregation of Chinese forces is still unclear, Bloomberg reports.

The protests evolved into a movement for deeper democratic reforms and an end to eroding freedoms, in the most significant challenge to Beijing's rule since the city's handover from Britain in 1997. Edward Leung, a pro-independence activist, was jailed for six years after being found guilty of the same offense in clashes with police in 2016.

A senior USA official who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity said a number of units had gathered, but it's unclear if they are security police or part of China's military, news.com.au reports.

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Video footage on social media appeared to show a auto driving by the Tin Shui Wai police station as fireworks flared where protesters were gathered.

The protesters were detained after clashes with police at an unauthorized protest in the western part of Hong Kong island on Sunday, when police repeatedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets to drive back protesters blocking the streets with road signs and umbrellas. In recent months, demonstrations have taken place on a large scale across the city as protesters opposed a Beijing-backed controversial extradition bill that they feared could be used by China to retaliate against dissidents.

The protesters called for Hongkongers from all walks of life, including those in the transportation, information technology, public services, catering and financial industries, to unite and launch a city-wide strike in the hope of paralyzing the city's economy and pressing the government to address the problems.

Forty-four people had been charged with rioting and one other with possessing offensive weapons.

In a statement announcing the charges, Hong Kong police accused protesters of "peace-breaching acts".

But protesters have vowed to keep their campaign going until their core demands are met.

Though the extradition bill has been suspended, protestors have demanded Carrie Lam resign as Chief Executive, though reports have claimed Beijing rejected Mrs Lam's offers to resign.

He said that Hong Kong's positive business environment was due to its respect for the rule of law, independent judiciary and reputation for good governance.

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