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Asia Minute: Hong Kong Waits for Significant Anniversary

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AP Photo/Kin Cheung
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Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a community dialogue with selected participants at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Hong Kong, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019.

Authorities in Hong Kong are bracing for another weekend of protests. It’s been the same pattern for several months, but this coming week will bring an especially sensitive time.

Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam said she wanted to hear directly from residents, and on Thursday she got her wish – holding the first of what she plans as several town hall meetings.

Local media reported police in the area outnumbered the participants by a factor of 20 — more than 3,000 police and an audience of 150. Although, most of the law enforcement presence was low key and out of sight.

The event was held at a stadium in the Wan Chai section of the city. The reception was polite, but critical.

More than 20,000 people applied to attend the meeting — those who got in were picked by a lottery.

Many asked Lam why she hasn’t launched an independent investigation into how police have handled the protests with one saying “the police have become a political tool of the government.”

Lam mostly stayed away from promises – saying “like many in society, I hope the chaos and violence can end swiftly.”

The weekend is expected to bring more protests, but another focus for security is next Tuesday. That marks China’s National Day, and the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party.

The South China Morning Post reports many of the official ceremonies commemorating the occasion have been toned down in Hong Kong. The paper says that VIPS attending a cocktail reception have been told they will be not be able to attend a flag-raising ceremony, but will be staying indoors to watch a live broadcast of the event on television.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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