“No to One Belt One Road, Zhang Dejiang get lost,” protesters chanted as they attempted to gain access to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre during a brief standoff with the police on Wednesday.
Zhang, China’s No. 3 official, was speaking at a summit on Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative at the Exhibition Centre. He will be in the city until Thursday.
Around 100 protesters attended from pro-democracy groups including the Democratic Party, the Civic Party, the League of Social Democrats, as well as the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China.
Dozens of police officers formed a barricade as some demonstrators shouted, “I have the right to enter the exhibition centre!” and “Open the doors!”
“Stop interfering with Hong Kong affairs,” protesters chanted.
After around 20 minutes, the protesters acceded to the police request and headed to a protest area to continue their demonstration.
Protesters said that Zhang’s pledged to “look,” “listen,” and “speak” was symbolic, as he did not meet the protesters and would not see the real Hong Kong.
“He said that he is here to listen, but where is he when so many local organisations are protesting? Is he willing to face the people? …and there are so many water barricades, which means that they don’t want to see the protesters,” Kenson Lai, a member of the Democratic Party, told HKFP.
Protest organisers said that the pan-democrats will invite Zhang to visit the protesters between 6pm-8pm tonight.
“The Hong Kong government is even more communist and totalitarian than the Communist party,” he added.
“We want real democracy, we want to end one party rule.” Pansy Poon, a housewife, told HKFP. “Zhang’s visit is only symbolic, to symbolically inspect a place he controls. There is no real meaning to it,” she added. “I hope that Hong Kongers will wake up. You really need to come out and fight for democracy yourself.”
Other demands at the protest included the release of political criminals as well as a halt to the destruction of churches in China.
Meanwhile, a small group of pro-Beijing protesters some tens of metres away played patriotic songs from speakers.