Protesters and police clash in Hong Kong after peaceful march

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Hundreds of thousands of people have joined the weeks-long protests that showed no signs of ending amid wider fears that Hong Kong is losing freedoms guaranteed when China took control of the former British colony in 1997.

The protesters passed by pharmacies and cosmetic shops that are popular with Chinese tourists and traders who bring goods back to sell on the mainland.

The demonstration in the town of Sheung Shui, not far from the Chinese city of Shenzhen, started peacefully but devolved into scuffles and shouting, with police firing pepper spray at protesters and pushing them back with baton-charges. They later used pepper spray several times to disperse the crowds and beat some of the protesters with truncheons, who in turn used umbrellas to defend themselves.

Mainland traders have always been a source of anger among those in Hong Kong who say they have fuelled inflation, driven up property prices and dodged taxes.

"Our lovely town has become chaos", Ryan Lai, 50, told Reuters.

They said they aren't against the travel and buying, but want it to be orderly and legal.

Protesters cover themselves with umbrellas as others make graffiti on the gate of a store during an anti-parallel trading protest in Sheung Shui district in Hong Kong on July 13, 2019.

Protesters said they wanted to see more engagement by the rest of the world with Hong Kong because of the challenges it faces.

"The Chinese government sternly supports Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the administration's continued effective ruling of Hong Kong in accordance with law", Wang said, adding that it also "supports the police in enforcing the law, maintaining social order and protecting safety of the people".

Hong Kong has been rocked by a month of huge peaceful protests as well as a series of separate violent confrontations with police sparked by a law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. Many shops were shuttered during the march.

Most of the protests have taken place in and around Hong Kong's central business district, but recently demonstrators have turned their sights to parts of the territory that have seen less political activity.

HONG KONG-Hong Kong protesters clashed with police on July 13 in a town near the boundary with mainland China where thousands rallied against the presence of Chinese traders, seizing on another grievance following major unrest over the extradition bill.

A small group of protesters paraded Friday around Hong Kong government headquarters with a mock coffin of city leader Carrie Lam, as activists announced more protests.

According to the Hong Kong Free Press, more protests are planned due to continued public skepticism over the government's intent.

Similar protests have included a march last week by almost 2,000 people in the Tuen Mun residential district to protest against what they saw as the nuisance of brash singing and dancing to Mandarin pop songs.

"If political problems are not solved, social well-being issues will continue to emerge endlessly".

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