Pro-democracy demonstrators gather for the third night in Hong Kong on September 30, 2014 (AFP Photo / Philippe Lopez) / AFP
Hong Kong is witnessing one of the city's largest rallies in decades, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets to join a protest movement, widely known as #OccupyCentral, demanding election reform.
Although the movement's hashtag mentions only one of Hong Kong's
districts, by Tuesday protesters had gathered in at least four of
the city's busiest areas – including Admiralty, the Central
business district, the popular shopping district of Causeway Bay,
and Mong Kok in Kowloon.
Unlike the relatively calm nightly gatherings on Hong Kong
Island, protests were more distraught at times across the water
in Mong Kok. Thousands blocked one of Kowloon's busiest
intersections – the corner of Nathan Road and Argyle Street – for
Some 80,000 people have gathered for the protests, according to
organizers, though no independent estimates are available. The
demonstration may be the largest to take place in the former
British colony since China resumed rule in 1997.
The protests gained major traction on Friday, with many camping
out and blocking the typically busy roads. However, in contrast
to weekend clashes with riot police, there was a more cheerful
atmosphere among demonstrators at the start of the week.
Late on Tuesday, people were stockpiling supplies and erecting
makeshift barricades ahead of Chinese National Day, as some fear
police may try to clear roads for the state holiday festivities.
Supply stations – stocked with water bottles, snacks, disposable
raincoats, towels, face masks, and tents – have been set up,
indicating that demonstrators do not plan to clear off the
streets anytime soon.
The protests are affecting the financial market, with Hong Kong
shares sinking to a three-month low on Tuesday. Businesses,
including those in the Causeway Bay shopping mecca, have also
been directly affected by protesters crowding the streets.
In reaction to the mounting unrest, cosmetics giant L'Oreal has
banned all staff from traveling to Hong Kong on business until
October 6. The United States, Australia, and Singapore have
issued travel alerts.