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Twin Hong Kong rallies as protesters defy China warnings

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Beijing repeats warnings about continuing unrest as police battle protesters for consecutive nights

HONG KONG Pro-democracy protesters held twin rallies in Hong Kong on Sunday as China delivered fresh warnings over the unrest battering the city, a day after police fired tear gas at demonstrators in a popular tourist hub.

Thousands marched through two separate districts on Sunday afternoon, the latest protests in another weekend of explosive unrest.

On Saturday, Tsim Sha Tsui - a harbourside district known for its luxury malls and hotels - was filled with acrid plumes of tear gas as small groups of hardcore protesters battled police in streets usually brimming with tourists and shoppers.


Yesterday, riot police again fired tear gas at protesters on Hong Kong's main island, the second consecutive night of unrest.

China's official Xinhua news agency published a new commentary yesterday, saying "ugly forces" were threatening the country's "bottom line".

"The central government will not sit idly by and let this situation continue," the agency wrote.

Semi-autonomous Hong Kong has seen two months of protests and clashes triggered by opposition to a planned extradition law that quickly evolved into a wider movement for democratic reforms.

But authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing have only hardened their stance.

Dozens of protesters were charged with rioting last week while the Chinese military said it was ready to quell the "intolerable" unrest if requested.

The largely leaderless protest movement remains unbowed.

Two gatherings were held yesterday, one in Tseung Kwan O district and the other in Kennedy Town, while the city is also gearing up for a strike today.

The latter rally was not far from the Liaison Office, the department that represents China's central government in Hong Kong.

Two weeks ago, the office was pelted with eggs and paint in a move that infuriated Beijing and sparked the rapidly escalating warnings from the mainland.

"I'm more worried than hopeful," Ms Florence Tung, a 22-year-old trainee lawyer who was among the thousands marching through Tseung Kwan O, told AFP.

"It's like no matter how much us citizens do, we cannot change the government," she added, referring to the city's unelected pro-Beijing leaders. - AFP