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Hong Kong weekend protests canceled and pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong arrested

Key Points
  • The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) — a pro-democracy group which led some of the larger protests that saw more than a million people gather for peaceful protests — confirmed that the planned protests for Saturday will be canceled in view of a police ban.
  • Police told CNBC that a 22-year-old man with the last name Wong had been arrested, along with a woman. Wong was suspected of inciting others to participate in unauthorized assembly and for organizing unauthorized assembly, they said.
Pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow arrive at the Eastern Court by police van after being arrested on suspicion for organizing illegal protests, in Hong Kong, China August 30, 2019.
Tyrone Siu | Reuters

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong was arrested Friday, ahead of another week of mass protests that has gripped the city for the last three months.

His arrest came as the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) — a pro-democracy group which led some of the larger protests that saw more than a million people gather for peaceful protests — confirmed that the planned protests for Saturday will be canceled in view of a police ban.

Saturday marks the fifth anniversary of Beijing's rejection of a call for universal suffrage in the city, which further fueled widespread protests in 2014.

Police banned the planned protests, saying that organizers will not be able to guarantee the safety of participants. The CHRF said they had no choice but to cancel the march on Saturday since the group's principle was to hold protests that were physically and legally safe.

Since early June, Hong Kong — a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997 — has witnessed mass rallies that sometimes turned violent. The demonstrations were initially spurred by opposition to a proposed bill that would allow people in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China, but have since evolved into a broader movement calling for democracy.

Under the "one country, two systems" formula, Hong Kong citizens enjoy some legal and economic freedoms that mainland Chinese don't have — but the territory's citizens are now concerned that their civil rights are being eroded under Beijing's rule.

Wong is the face of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. On Friday morning, he was seen being pushed into a private vehicle while en route to a subway train station in the southern part of the city, according to his affiliated party Demosisto.

Two other pro-democracy activists, Andy Chan and Agnes Chow, were also arrested.

The three pro-democracy leaders were detained over their participation in recent protests, police told CNBC. They also confirmed that Wong's charges include: inciting others to participate in unauthorized assembly, as well as organizing and participating in unauthorized assembly.

The charges were in relation to the protest on June 21 when thousands of people surrounded the police headquarters in Wan Chai, police added.

On Thursday, China sent a fresh batch of troops into Hong Kong. The military said it is a routine rotation and its Hong Kong Garrison will "resolutely follow" the central government's instructions, as well as "resolutely implement the 'one country, two systems' principle."

— CNBC's Weizhen Tan contributed to this report.