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Hong Kong police praised for restraint

By Timothy Chui | China Daily | Updated: 2014-07-03 07:40

Officers take hundreds into custody after sit-in protesters refuse to leave

Hong Kong police said on Wednesday that officers used appropriate force to restore public order when an unauthorized sit-in that followed a mass protest rally on Tuesday blocked traffic along a major road in the city's Central district.

A total of 511 protesters were taken into custody for illegal assembly and obstructing officers after the police forcibly cleared roads for morning business.

One man was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, and one police officer was slightly injured while police cleared the road just after dawn.

Hong Kong's Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said the police were professional and acted with restraint.

Central's Chater Road was closed overnight for a sit-in demonstration by a small splinter group of students agitating for political reforms - an action deemed illegal under the Basic Law.

A courteous and measured police presence was observed until dawn, when repeated announcements from police that the road was no longer a pedestrian-only zone went largely unheeded.

The sit-in's organizers encouraged the few hundred participants to defy police orders to clear the road ahead of Wednesday morning's rush-hour traffic.

Some protesters complied after repeated warnings, while others were uncooperative and had to be taken away, one by one, by teams of four officers, one for each human limb.

The arrested persons were taken to the police academy in Wong Chuk Hang, which had been converted to a temporary holding area.

Lai said protestors would be charged or released in due order based on established procedures, and also praised police for their professionalism and for not resorting to the use of non-lethal crowd-control tools at their disposal.

He added that the police action was undertaken to ensure that roads were clear for morning business and that officers remained on-site to ensure that traffic remained unimpeded.

Financial Services lawmaker Christopher Cheung Wah-fung applauded the police work. He said the small-scale disruptions and promise of more have already affected business in Central, with a planned stock listing delayed and losses sustained by shops that were shuttered during demonstrations.

Organizers of the sit-in, which began after most marchers dispersed, called it a rehearsal for an attempt to shut down the central business district.

Radicals in Hong Kong have promised to bring business to a halt over disagreements on political reform promised under the "One Country, Two Systems" protocol, but comes before any government proposals on political reform have been released.

Meanwhile, Vice-Minister of Finance Wang Baoan said the "Occupy Central" movement would definitely have a negative impact on Hong Kong's economic development and social stability.

He said at a Wednesday morning news conference in Beijing that Hong Kong is a society under the rule of law, and he preferred that members of the public make use of normal channels to express their views.

He said that 17 years after reunification, the central government had introduced a series of measures and arrangements to boost regional economic cooperation and eliminate inefficiencies to help Hong Kong.

The Ministry of Finance, with its responsibility for the nation's macroeconomic planning, is mindful of the "One Country, Two Systems" arrangement, Wang said, especially given Hong Kong's role as an international financial, trade and shipping center.

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