Some Hongkongers have said that they will temporarily halt protests out of respect for the victims of the 9/11 terror attack. The move came after a Chinese state-run paper accused “radical protesters” of planning local acts of terrorism on Wednesday – the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the US.

On Monday, the China Daily Hong Kong edition wrote in a Facebook post that the claim was based on “leaked information” in online chat rooms, attaching a picture of the World Trade Centre under attack. “Anti-government fanatics are planning massive terror attacks, including blowing up gas pipes, in Hong Kong on September 11,” read the post.

“The 9/11 terror plot also encourages indiscriminate attacks on non-native speakers of Cantonese, and starting mountain fires.”

As of Wednesday evening, there were no reports of terrorist activity or large-scale fires in Hong Kong.

Some protesters rallied around a statement that called for a “suspension of protests in remembrance of the September 11 attacks,” except for singing and chanting. One poster read: “We honour those who died in the attacks, and all those sacrificed in the fight against all forms of terrorism.”

protest suspension september 11 terror attack
Photo: Telegram screenshot.

The message had been reshared on social media by some political groups, including Student Localism.

Some users of the Reddit-like LIHKG forum said the Chinese government was trying to smear them.

“If there are rumours that we would commit indiscriminate attacks, those would be attempts to smear us or an inside job by the Hong Kong government, in order to disrupt and divide the movement,” one user wrote, in a post that received around 1,000 upvotes.

protest suspension september 11 terror attack
Photo: Telegram screenshot.

“From the protesters’ point of view, we would not pointlessly give up the local and international support that we gained over the past three years, as well as the efforts by our injured and arrested comrades.”

Others said that they would attend protests on September 15 instead, which is expected to be a peaceful march organised by the Civil Human Rights Front on Hong Kong Island.

Protests in Hong Kong have entered their 14th week, sparked by a soon-to-be-withdrawn extradition bill which would have allowed case-by-case fugitive transfers to China. Since June, large-scale peaceful protests have morphed into sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment and alleged police brutality.

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Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.