An annual fireworks display in Hong Kong marking China’s National Day has been called off as pro-democracy protests show no sign of ending.
The city issued a terse statement saying the October 1 show over its famed Victoria Harbour had been cancelled “in view of the latest situation and having regard to public safety”.
Major protests are expected on October 1, which will be the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party-governed People’s Republic of China.
Hong Kong has experienced often-violent demonstrations all summer as many residents fear the Chinese government is eroding the rights and freedoms the semi-autonomous territory is supposed to have under a “one country, two systems” framework.
The protests have divided the city. Dozens of supporters of China waved Chinese flags and sang the national anthem in a mall on Wednesday, while anti-government protesters booed them.
Plainclothes police escorted them out of the mall, and officers formed a human chain to prevent clashes with the other side.
At a similar rally last weekend, what started as heckling turned violent as people traded blows, some using umbrellas to hit their opponents.
The anthem singing has sought to counter a newly penned protest song, Glory To Hong Kong, sung by democracy supporters in malls and other public spaces.
Fans of rival football teams gathered on Wednesday evening on pitches in a large central park to sing the protest song while forming a human chain, in a show of the protest movement’s unity.
The protests also led the Hong Kong Jockey Club to cancel horse racing on Wednesday night.
Tonight's (18 September) race meeting at Happy Valley Racecourse has been cancelled.
Official statement: https://t.co/bI3SB7dk7K
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) September 18, 2019
Some protesters had suggested targeting the club because a horse owned by controversial pro-Beijing legislator Junius Ho was due to run, public broadcaster RTHK reported.
“Our concerns are tied to potential social unrest in the vicinity tonight, the very real threat of a disturbance or possible violence at Happy Valley Racecourse, and uncertainty regarding transportation … for racegoers, jockeys and employees and horses throughout the evening,” the club said in a statement.