Three members of post-Occupy group Demosisto were among a group of around a dozen protestors who tried to get close to China’s third-ranking official Zhang Dejiang as he arrived at the Grand Hyatt hotel.
They were swiftly subdued by officers but not arrested.
The protestors attempted to get near the hotel from buildings nearby. Demosisto said they had booked a room at a hotel near the Grand Hyatt ahead of Zhang’s visit and hid at three different locations – Shui On Centre, Harbourview Hotel and the Art Centre – prior to the state leader’s arrival.
Demosisto’s Derek Lam Shun-hin, who hid at Shui On Centre and dressed in a suit to blend in with the crowd, said they wanted to tell Zhang that Hongkongers had a right to self-determination.
“As soon as we held up our signs, the police grabbed them from us,” he said. “Why are the Hong Kong and central government such cowards and ignoring Hongkongers’ demands?”
Demosisto’s Nathan Law Kwun-chung attempted to get near the Grand Hyatt from the Harbourview Hotel. Law was pressed towards the ground as he rushed out of the protest area when National People’s Congress Standing Committee Chairman Zhang arrived in his car. Law thought the protest area was located too far away for Zhang to be able to see them.
He said the guerilla methods were chosen as the group did not see a point in making demands in designated protest zones.
People in “those designated zones basically cannot see any Chinese officials or have any interaction with them,” he said. “I don’t think it’s meaningful to protest there.”
Demosisto’s Joshua Wong Chi-fung, who tried to breach the police cordon via the Arts Centre, said there were around 10 plainclothes officers inside the building and 40 more at the entrance.
He said officers stopped him as soon as he stepped out from the building.
A police source with knowledge of the matter said the force only stopped them from getting near the hotel.
“They should have known that the surrounding area would be restricted zones whenever Zhang passes by,” the source said. “Anyone would be stopped from approaching the hotel when Zhang arrived.”
Zhang touched down in Hong Kong late on Tuesday morning, and summed up the agenda for his three-day visit to the city in three words: seeing, listening and speaking..
In a conciliatory set of remarks delivered on the runway upon his arrival on an Air China flight at 11.45 am, Zhang said he would listen to “all sectors of society” on “what recommendations and requirements they have” regarding the implementation of “one country, two systems” and on the matter of Hongkongers running their city.
Accompanied by four mainland officials and local officials, Zhang said he would not only speak during the “belt and road” summit organised by the Hong Kong government and deliver a speech during a banquet on Wednesday, but would also “give speeches on other occasions”.
Security was tight at the airport, particularly for the media. Security guards reportedly took away many journalists’ umbrellas for temporary keeping.
They also took away a 40 by 40cm yellow towel brought by one reporter meant to cover a camera lens.
But reporters wearing yellow clothes appeared to be permitted to proceed through security.
Meanwhile, members of pro-democracy group the League of Social Democrats put up a banner on a structure along North Lantau Highway, near the airport, that read: “End Chinese communist party dictatorship.” Another which read “I want genuine universal suffrage”was hung on Beacon Hill.
The league’s chairman, Avery Ng Man-yuen, was heard telling a reporter at the scene: “We want to ask Zhang Dejiang not to hide and go back to Beijing.
“If he’s afraid of people in Hong Kong, don’t come to Hong Kong.”
The officers arrested four league members, including Ng, and took them into police vans and drove away.