Clash fears as HK protest walls torn down

Pro-Beijing supporters have begun tearing down protest walls of colourful notes in Hong Kong.
Pro-Beijing supporters have begun tearing down protest walls of colourful notes in Hong Kong.

Groups of China supporters have pulled down "Lennon Walls" of anti-government protest messages across Hong Kong, raising the possibility of clashes with democracy supporters and another weekend of trouble.

By mid-morning, dozens of Beijing supporters had started to tear down the large mosaics of colourful notes calling for democracy and denouncing perceived Chinese meddling in the former British colony.

The installations have blossomed across the Asian financial centre, at bus stops and shopping centres, under footbridges and along pedestrian walkways.

They have also occasionally become hot spots of violence in the city's three months of unrest.

Hong Kong's protests picked up in June over legislation, now withdrawn, that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial. Demands have since broadened into calls for universal suffrage.

A pro-Beijing city legislator, Junius Ho, who has been a vocal critic of the protests, had urged his supporters to clean up the approximately 100 "Lennon Walls" around the city on Saturday.

The walls are named after the John Lennon Wall in communist-controlled Prague in the 1980s that was covered with Beatles lyrics and messages of political grievance.

However, in a message posted late on his Facebook page on Friday, Ho said "for the sake of safety" the Lennon Walls would not be cleared up, only the streets.

"We will clean up the environment with a peaceful and rational attitude," he said.

The anti-government protesters are angry about what they see as creeping interference by Beijing on Hong Kong's "one country, two systems" formula that ensures freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including the right of assembly and an independent judiciary.

China says it is committed to the "one country, two systems" arrangement and denies interfering. It has accused foreign governments including the United States and Britain, of inciting the unrest.

Australian Associated Press