Hong Kong counts down to Halloween protest fright night

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong

Protesters are angry at what they see as Beijing's increasing interference in Hong Kong, which returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula meant to guarantee freedoms not seen on the mainland.

In a separate event, police fired tear gas at protesters gathered at a subway station across the harbor.

Digital fliers circulated online called on people to wear masks depicting Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other senior officials.

They also want to use the march to highlight the two-month anniversary of an incident that took place at Prince Edward MTR Station, where police officers were accused of indiscriminately beating up people during a dispersal operation, causing multiple injuries, on the night of August 31.

Police have banned the march and said they would close roads including the sloping Lan Kwai Fong strip itself, from early afternoon until Friday morning to "facilitate the public celebrating".

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Lam introduced a measure to ban masks and face coverings at the start of October, but protesters have largely ignored it and police have not been enforcing it on a large scale.

Hong Kong slid into recession for the first time since the global financial crisis in the third quarter, advance estimates showed on Thursday, weighed down by increasingly violent anti-government protests and the protracted U.S.

Year-on-year GDP also shrank 2.9 percent, its sharpest drop in a decade. "The challenges are complicated, both externally and locally", she said when addressing a joint business community luncheon at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.

Hong Kong has officially slipped into a technical recession as the city's economy continued to deteriorate in the third quarter, according to official data released Thursday. The demonstrators were marking two months since riot police stormed a subway vehicle and beat passengers with batons and pepper spray in scenes that inflamed tensions.

Some protesters in Hong Kong have thrown petrol bombs at police, lit fires and vandalised government buildings and businesses, especially those seen as pro-Beijing, during recent demonstrations.

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Lam's use of the law was controversial because it bypassed the Legislative Council, the partially-elected chamber that approves Hong Kong's laws.

HSBC's cut, to take effect November 1, will likely help the Hong Kong economy and companies, George Leung, the bank's Asia-Pacific adviser, said at a briefing.

The protests were initially sparked by a now-abandoned plan to allow extraditions to the authoritarian mainland.

China is projected to see the slowest growth in gross domestic product in nearly three decades this year - a concern made worse by the trade war with US President Donald Trump and rising prices of food staples like pork.

In Beijing, the ruling Communist Party said it planned to strengthen laws regarding Hong Kong in the name of national security.

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