HK braces for wave of store closures after protests

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For Hong Kong investors and democracy advocates alike, the extradition bill reinforced concerns the Beijing-backed government was corroding the legal wall separating the local judicial system from the mainland's-the One Nation, Two Systems policy put in place when China took back Hong Kong from the United Kingdom and Macau from Portugal.

While the rally - which organizers said drew 800,000 people, while police estimated 183,000 - was largely peaceful, some protesters lit a fire outside court buildings and threw petrol bombs at government buildings.

The former British colony has been rocked by more than 900 demonstrations, processions and public meetings since June, with many ending in violent confrontations between protesters and police, who have responded at times with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Despite a lull in clashes in the past two weeks, tension bubbled under the surface as police defused two improvised mail bombs discovered near a school and seized firearms including a pistol during overnight raids.

"If a particular demand requires us to deviate from the law, not to uphold the rule of law in Hong Kong, or to do things actually beyond the powers of the chief executive, I could not agree to accept those demands".

About 89% of Hong Kongers now believe that a combination of peaceful protests and radical tactics can achieve the best outcome, while 92% think that radical actions are understandable "when the government fails to listen", a mid-September poll shows.

The movement, which marked its six month anniversary on Monday, was initially sparked by a now-abandoned attempt to allow extraditions to mainland China but has since morphed into a popular revolt against Beijing's rule. "You can see how determined Hong Kong people are", said demonstrator Justin Ng, a 20-year-old student.

"It's Christmas time soon but we're not in the mood to celebrate anymore", said Lawrence, a 23-year-old student.

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Hong Kong's beleaguered leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has brushed aside "rumours and speculation" of a cabinet reshuffle ahead of her imminent duty visit to Beijing, saying the government has listened to the people after Sunday's huge protest rally.

Others chanted, "Fight for Freedom, stand with Hong Kong" - one of the slogans of the anti-government movement. "I am urging the protesters today to pay extra attention to their surroundings and leave the scene and report to the police if there are signs of danger". He has publicly endorsed the city's beleaguered leader, Carrie Lam, to bring an end to the unrest.

"Many residents in Hong Kong are fed up with the violence and disruption that have plagued the city for months".

In the same month, Hong Kong's retail sales contracted 24.3 percent to 30.1 billion Hong Kong dollars from a year earlier, the ninth consecutive month of decline and the fourth month of double-digit decline, the government data showed.

American support for the protest movement has been viewed by Beijing as a deliberate provocation, and Chinese authorities have accused "foreign actors" of stoking the flames of unrest in Hong Kong to destabilize China. "We hope that this is just an over reaction to current events and that worldwide business can constructively forge ahead", the chamber said in a statement.

Around 6000 people have been arrested and hundreds injured, including police, since June.

"People are still very eager to fight for what they have been fighting for", he said.

"Sometimes it nearly feels like we are Sisyphus trying to push the rock up the mountain, even though it keeps rolling back on us", Violet said.