Protesters in Hong Kong are drawing praise for clearing away garbage left behind after massive protests involving millions of people came to a successful end over the weekend. The protesters’ cleanup efforts, which ran all through the night, have left city streets in the Chinese special administrative region spotless, according to The Independent.
Ennie Chan, who took part in the unprecedented mass protests, told the British newspaper:
“I was there [at the protests] and I saw everything … I saw young people holding different bags to take trash away last night. There were a lot of people clearing rubbish.”
The city was engulfed by major demonstrations throughout the past week to oppose an extradition law pushed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam that would have given Beijing increased political control over the former British colony and autonomous territory. Protesters have also demanded the resignation of Lam, who has shown increased sensitivity to protesters’ demands.
Early Monday morning, author Kong Tsung-gan wrote on Twitter:
“Occupiers are doing one last sweep for rubbish. “Two million people marched here yesterday, it was occupied all night, and there isn’t a scrap of rubbish on the road.”
Protesters have also been praised following the release of a video showing masses of protesters quickly making way for an ambulance Sunday night. In the video, a sea of protesters parts in an orderly, prompt fashion to open up a path for the vehicle.
One Twitter user called it “the most beautiful scene in Hong Kong” on that night.
One protester named Cathy told the Daily Mail:
“I heard that someone had fallen ill ahead of us. The ambulance arrived and there was a protester separating the crowd and asking people to move to the side of the road.
“There was no chaos at all. Everyone was so polite and organized.
“I was so touched. We are definitely not rioters!”
A high school student who asked to remain anonymous told The Independent:
“Yesterday’s protest was beautiful. The protesters were really polite.
“There were many older protesters as well – if they felt unwell, people around them would hold them up, offer water or bread, and tell others to be careful.
“It got pretty hot and stuffy whenever we had to wait in the same space for a while. When they saw small kids they helped fan them to cool them down.”
Lam has attempted to meet the protest movement halfway by issuing an apology over Hong Kong’s response to protests and its handling of the controversial bill, which now hangs in limbo and will be indefinitely delayed.
Protesters, however, are demanding Lam’s resignation and the immediate withdrawal of the extradition bill, as well as a thorough apology by local police. Authorities say 72 people have been admitted to hospitals following last week’s protests, where police deployed tear gas and less-lethal ammunition.
Beijing, for its part, has maintained that the extradition bill will improve the rule of law throughout the People’s Republic of China by strengthening national integration and the power of the judiciary throughout both the mainland and the special administrative region, which was a British colony for over 150 years.
Chinese authorities also suspect that the U.S. and U.K. have a shared goal of using the continued unrest in Hong Kong to divide the people of China and erode Beijing’s ability to govern the country amid U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade war against the East Asian giant.
China’s leadership remains steadfast in its support of Lam, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang confirmed Monday. Kang told reporters Monday that acts of interference by foreign powers have been apparent since the extradition law was introduced:
“Many facts have shown that foreign governments and even some politicians have been making inflammatory remarks since the decision of the Hong Kong government to start amending the extradition ordinance in February.”
Using even more forceful language in an editorial last week, state-owned media outlet The Global Times argued:
“U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen have cheered the demonstrations in Hong Kong. People like them hope Hong Kong can become a wedge with which they can confront the Chinese mainland. Does Hong Kong’s prosperity and welfare have anything to do with them?
“Radical opposition groups in Hong Kong are colluding with hostile forces out of their own political motivations. Hong Kong residents should avoid being cheated, misled and exploited by them. Time will tell where the interests of Hong Kong people lie and who is really doing good for Hong Kong.”