World

Hong Kong police break up mall scuffle

By AAP Newswire

Baton-wielding Hong Kong police moved in to break up scuffles between pro-China protesters and those denouncing perceived Chinese meddling in the Asian financial hub, the latest in months of sometimes violent clashes.

The pro-China demonstrators chanted "Support the police" and "China, add oil" at a shopping mall, adapting a line used by anti-Hong Kong government protesters and loosely meaning: "China, keep your strength up".

"Hong Kong is China," one woman shouted at passers-by who shouted obscenities in return in an angry pushing and pulling stand-off, marked more by the shouting than violence.

The clashes in the Kowloon Bay area of the Hong Kong "special administrative zone" of China spilled out onto the streets, with each confrontation captured by dozens of media and onlookers on their smart phones. Police detained several people.

But the unrest was minor compared with previous weeks when anti-government protesters have attacked the legislature and Liaison Office, the symbol of Chinese rule, trashed metro stations and set street fires. Police have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.

Protesters complaining about perceived Chinese interference in the former British colony came out in their hundreds across the territory on Friday, singing and chanting on the Mid-Autumn Festival.

They have also gathered in malls, with occasional scuffles with flag-carrying China supporters, often denouncing police for perceived brutality.

On Saturday, anti-government protesters also gathered in the northwestern New Territories district of Tin Shui Wai, with a brief stand-off with police. There were scattered scuffles between rival protesters elsewhere, including in the Fortress Hill area of Hong Kong island.

The spark for the anti-government protests was the now-withdrawn bill and concerns that Beijing is eroding civil liberties, but many young protesters are also angry about sky-high living costs and a lack of job prospects.