Protesters march in the border city of Hong Kong, targeting Chinese merchants

HONG KONG: More than a thousand protesters in Hong Kong They met in a city near the border on Sunday, seeking to maintain pressure on the government to give in to their demands for greater democracy.

The demonstrators in vented their anger at so-called parallel traders from China who buy vast amounts of duty free goods in Hong Kong and take them back to the mainland to sell at a profit.

Locals say it pushes up prices and adds to growing tensions between Hong Kong residents and mainland Chinese.

The mainland Chinese come here, block the streets with their bags ... rents have gone up and it has made things more expensive for Hong Kong ers, said Jasmin, a 19-year old student dressed all in black, who only gave her first name.

I want the government to know that many of them will come here.

Sunday's protests follow a march in central Hong Kong of at least tens of thousands on New Year's Day and an escalation in clashes with the police over the festive period.

The marchers, including families with children, shouted slogans such as Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our times! and Patriots use China-made products, don't parallel trade!

Police maintained a visible presence, with riot patrols waiting at the city's train station and in several areas along the planned route of the march, which had received a permit from the police to continue.

While the demonstration was largely peaceful, police said on their Facebook page that they previously fired tear gas to disperse a group of protesters throwing gasoline bombs over the fence of the Sheung Shui police station before the march. , damaging a police vehicle.

Many stores in the area were closed.

Anti-government protests in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong escalated in June over a now-withdrawn extradition bill, but have since developed into a broader movement, with demands including and an independent inquiry against alleged police brutality.

Police say they acted in moderation.

Many people in Hong Kong are angered by Beijing's tight grip on the city which was promised a high degree of autonomy under this framework when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Beijing denies interference and blames the West for fomenting the riots.

The protest movement is supported by 59% of the city's residents polled in a survey conducted for Reuters by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute.

In a Saturday statement, China's ministry of human resources and social security said the head of its Hong Kong Liaison Office, the most senior mainland political official based in the Chinese-controlled territory, had been replaced.

Wang Zhimin, who held the position since 2017, was replaced by who, until November, was the chief communist party official in the northern province of Shanxi.

Reuters reported exclusively in November that Beijing was considering possible replacements for Wang, as a sign of dissatisfaction with the handling of the crisis by the Liaison Office.