Hong Kong police arrest protesters in shopping mall

Protesters marching through a shopping mall in Sheung Shui Hong Kong on Dec 28 2019

Hong Kong protesters demand mainland China traders leave

Hong Kong police have earned a total of $17.3 million in meal and work-related allowances during the past six months of anti-government protests, government figures showed on Friday.

The latest planned protests come after a pick up in clashes since Christmas Eve when riot police fired rounds of tear gas at thousands of protesters, many wearing masks and reindeer antlers, after scuffles in shopping malls and in a prime tourist district.

About 100 protesters marched through the mall and shouted, "Free Hong Kong!".

Authorities have deployed 6,000 police officers and Chief Executive Carrie Lam appealed for calm and reconciliation in her New Year's Eve video message. "Nine! Liberate Hong Kong, revolution now!" as they lit up their phones in a sea of lights.

Police, who reject allegations of brutality and say they have shown restraint, have arrested almost 6,500 people since the protests began escalating in what is the worst political crisis faced by the city in decades.

"The movement is kind of like at its bottleneck now".

On Tuesday night, demonstrators also swarmed major shopping malls, which have become regular protest venues in an effort to cause economic disruption.

Crowds watch fireworks display during New Year's Eve celebrations in Brisbane, Australia, December 31, 2019.

The group, which wants the government to meet the public's five demands, said the march will begin at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay at 2 pm and end at the Chater Road Pedestrian Precinct in Central in the evening. In particular, Beijing has slammed a USA bill supporting "pro-democracy" activists in Hong Kong as an insult to its sovereignty.

"I have lived in Sheung Shui all my life, and seen with my own eyes the complete transformation of the local community, which has been taken over by mainlanders", said a 20-year-old protester.

The decision to cancel the annual event, which attracts hundreds of thousands of New Year's revellers, was made after organisers of Hong Kong's protest rallies announced that a mass demonstration would be held to mark the first day of January. "2019 is a wake-up call", a 63-year-old retiree, who gave his surname as Shiu, told AFP.

"More realistic people know there's no way for us to win but now is not the time for us to be pessimistic", he said, adding that he would continue to push for full democracy for Hong Kong.

The demonstrations were sparked by a now-abandoned bill to allow extraditions to the authoritarian mainland, but have since morphed into a popular revolt against Beijing's control - the biggest crisis since the former British colony's return to Chinese rule in 1997.

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