(Photo: Global Times)
About 476,000 Hong Kong residents attended a Safeguard Hong Kong assembly at Tamar Park despite rain on Saturday afternoon, calling for an end to violence and chaos after weeks of anti-government protests that turned into riots.
While waving China's national flags and holding banners reading "safeguard Hong Kong" and "support the police," hundreds and thousands people vowed to fight violence and save the city. "We support the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's government. We support Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, and we support the Hong Kong police."
The silent majority has spoken and their message is: Hong Kong has had enough.
Over the past two months, the city has been sliding into an abyss, and local resident are outraged by the recent illegal attacks and assaults on ordinary people at the Hong Kong airport. The assembly also called for an end to protesters' illegal demonstrations, desecration of the Chinese national flag and emblem, and the vandalizing of police stations and public facilities.
Radical protesters -- mostly young people -- have been taking part in illegal demonstrations over the past two months, vandalizing public properties such as the Legislative Council, the liaison office of the central government in Hong Kong, offices of Hong Kong legislators, besieging the police stations in different districts and attacking police officers.
Anti-government protesters also launched a ''non-cooperation movement,'' seriously disrupting public transport and hurting the interests of the public, leading the city into a very dangerous situation.
"Compared with the previous assembly, we see more people joining us and our target has become clearer: anti-violence, save Hong Kong, love China, love Hong Kong," a local resident named Michael who attended the event told the Global Times on Saturday.
An anti-violence and save the city sentiment has become more apparent in recent weeks, as illegal protests ended in violent riots, injuring police officers and attacking ordinary people, he said.
Since June 9, Hong Kong police have arrested 748 suspects who attacked police stations in various districts including Sham Shui Po, Tai Po and Tin Shui Wai. Riots have injured 177 police officers.
On Tuesday night, Global Times reporter Fu Guohao and another mainland traveler were seriously attacked by radical black-clad protesters, which outraged many Hongkongers and damaged the reputation of Hong Kong as a society ruled by law.
In a video recorded in his hospital room and broadcast at the assembly, Fu said he hopes everyone will work hard to protect stability of Hong Kong. "I always love Hong Kong, and I don't want the way of rioters treated me to lead to a conflict between the mainland and Hong Kong," he said.
A mother who lives in Kowloon said she brought her daughter to the assembly to show their support for Hong Kong police. "We want a peaceful life. Some teachers are playing very negative roles, teaching students in a wrong way," she told the Global Times, saying this is why young Hongkongers are not identifying themselves as Chinese and are protesting in such violent manner.
A father of three surnamed Que, who lives in Shanghai, said he witnessed radical protesters vandalizing the national emblem at the liaison office a few weeks ago,
"I have to tell my child what is happening in Hong Kong as they have to grow up," said Que. "If the people of the nation could join hands, we can come through the man-made chaos here."
Some well-known business representatives also came to support the event, as the violent protests have hurt the momentum of local economic growth.
Peter Woo Kwong-ching, a prominent Hong Kong billionaire tycoon, said that "violence is the enemy of freedom."
"A man in his 70s was bullied by black-clad protesters at the airport, which greatly shocks me," the 72-year-old businessman told a group of reporters. "Violence is appalling. If people remain silent to it, inevitably there will be more violence. That's the reason we are here to express our opposition to violence."
Stanley Ng Chau-pei, President of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and a Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress, said that Hong Kong has entered a critical period after the violent protests.
"Many citizens are aware of the crisis, that's the reason why the number of the people participating in the rally surpassed previous records," Ng said. "Terrorism has emerged in the protests, which have no reason to continue to exist."
After the assembly ended, many participants took photos with on duty police officers, cheering them on by chanting "Add Oil, officers!" A woman who preferred not to be named told the Global Times that she feels grateful for the Hong Kong police for their sacrifices and thankful for their efforts in safeguarding the city.