Published On: Fri, Aug 16th, 2019

Hong Kong protests: ‘Spiderman’ daredevil scales skyscraper to unfurl ‘peace flag’ | World | News

Ten weeks of violent clashes between police and protesters have thrown Hong Kong into its worst crisis in decades, and presented the biggest challenge to Beijing to date. Using his bare hands and without a harness, a 57-year-old shimmied up the Cheung Kong Centre in the city’s main business district and hung a large banner on the building’s exterior. The sign positioned the Chinese flag on the left hand corner and Hong Kong’s flag on the right side. 

Underneath was a yellow hand shaking a red hand on a white background to signify peace. 

He was banned from climbing buildings in the former British colony for a year last August, but the ban expired two weeks ago. 

Mr Robert was arrested after the ascent and taken to a local police station. He often climbs without permission and has been arrested on several times before. 

Prior to the climb, Mr Robert issued a statement saying the message of his action was to make “an urgent appeal for peace and consultation between the people of Hong Kong and their government”. 

He added: “Maybe what I do can help cool things down and raise a few smiles. That is my hope.”

But his call for peace did not go down well with some. 

Badiucao, a China-born political cartoonist based in Australia, asked Mr Robert if he “really wants to shake hands with butchers and dictators”. 

“This shows that many foreigners don’t understand the root of the problem between Hong Kong and China,” a user wrote on a popular forum. 

Mr Robert’s climb comes as more protests are expected to take place throughout the weekend. 

Ten weeks of brutal clashes between police and protesters have tipped Hong Kong into its worst crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997. 

The demonstrations have shown the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he took power in 2012. 

The protests began in opposition to plans to implement a new law that would have allowed the extradition of suspects for trial in mainland China, but quickly ballooned into wider calls for democracy. 

China’s ambassador to London on Thursday warned Beijing could use force to quell the unrest if the situation deteriorated further, before reiterating accusations that some protesters had shown “signs of terrorism”. 

“The central government of China will never allow a few violent offenders to drag Hong Kong down a dangerous road, down a dangerous abyss,” Liu Xiaoming told reporters. 

More than 700 people have been arrested since the unrest began in June, with police frequently using tear gas to disperse protests across the city.  

Western governments have ramped up calls for both sides to show restraint following chaotic scenes at Hong Kong’s airport this week that forced the cancellation of nearly 1,000 flights. 

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Wednesday called on Hong Kong officials to renew talks with protesters in a bid to end the unrest.  

“I call on all parties, in particular the Hong Kong authorities, to resume dialogue in order to find a peaceful solution to this crisis and put an end to the escalation of violence,” Mr Le Drian said in a statement. 

US President Donald Trump, for his part, warned Beijing against violently suppressing pro-democracy protesters. 

“I am concerned. I wouldn’t want to see a violent crackdown,” Mr Trump told reporters on Thursday. 

“If he [Mr Xi] sat down with the protesters – a group of representative protesters – I bet he’d work it out in 15 minutes … I know it’s not the kind of thing he does, but I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea,” he added. 

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