Police arrested at least 70 people as a crackdown begins against the scores of protesters who turned to the streets over the last month to voice frustrations against city leaders. Charges against those individuals - some as young as 14 - included possession of weapons, unlawful assembly, assaulting police, criminal damage, forcible entry and disorderly conduct in a public place. Thirteen arrests have been linked to demonstrations on July 1, the most aggressive demonstrations to date, that ended with a few hundred people storming the city’s parliament. Only one of those individuals arrested, however, is alleged to be directly linked to the seizure of the government building. The arrests kick off a crackdown that could last for years. Activists like Joshua Wong, a key figure in the 2014 Umbrella Movement that rocked Hong Kong, have been in and out of prison. Mr Wong, 22, was just freed in a surprise release this June. China has urged Hong Kong authorities to prosecute the “criminals” involved in the protests. But unlike past protests in the city, the recent demonstrations have lacked a central organising force - instead several groups have rallied the masses. That means there aren’t specific individuals police can go after and send a symbolic message to quell unrest. Joshua Wong's release from prison has seen him return to the fray Beijing says unrest in Hong Kong as being “hyped by Western forces,” issuing yet another direct warning on Thursday to the UK – specifically naming Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and referring to Boris Johnson, both in the race to become the next prime minister – to stop commenting on its former colony. “In the past few days, Mr Hunt has been mistakenly commenting on Hong Kong, and now it seems that a new person has taken over to continue lecturing on the same issues,” said Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry. “If some actors in the UK obstinately make the same mistake over and over again, we will have to discuss.” “Hunt inflamed Hong Kong’s situation, which only ruins his and the UK’s image. He sabotaged China-UK relations for his personal political interests,” warned an editorial in the Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece. “Hunt is selfish and has poor logic. The UK’s diplomacy toward China will pay for his behaviour.” Some lawmakers worry that the arrests will lead to more violent demonstrations. “I am terribly worried that a massive kind of round-up of protesters could trigger very negative sentiment on the part of the young, “ said Claudia Mo, a pro-democratic member of the Legislative Council. “Things could get worse.” Clean-up efforts continued Thursday – rubbish bins were hauled in to clear the debris and city workers brushed over slogans painted by protesters. A small group went on a hunger strike, while others offered free hugs to boost morale after at least three people committed suicide in protest over the last two weeks.
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