The Latest: Taiwanese march in support of HK protests

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A police officer tries to keep the pro-China supporters in order at the Peak in Hong Kong Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. Hundreds of pro-Beijing supporters sang Chinese national anthem and waved red flags ahead of China’s National Day, in a counter to months-long pro-democracy protests viewed as a challenge to Beijing’s rule. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

HONG KONG (AP) — The Latest on protests in Hong Kong (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

Thousands of people have marched in Taiwan in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests.

Spurred by anti-China cries from loudspeakers, demonstrators took to the streets of Taipei, the capital, on Sunday despite heavy rain. Most wore black and a few donned gas masks, both symbols of the Hong Kong protests.

Protester Lin Shu-lian, a 50-year-old office worker, said she is saddened that people in Hong Kong have lost their freedom. She added: “I hope Taiwanese can send a signal that we won’t become the next Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong is a former British colony that was returned to China in 1997. The semiautonomous city has more freedoms than mainland China, but protesters feel those freedoms are being eroded.

Taiwan is a self-governing island that split from the mainland in 1949. Government surveys indicate that most Taiwanese oppose unification with China.

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5:20 p.m.

Members of an elite police squad have charged out from behind barricades surrounding the Hong Kong government office complex, after protesters continued to throw objects and attempted to scale the barriers despite police use of a water cannon earlier.

The sudden appearance of the officers, commonly known as raptors, took many protesters by surprise Sunday and a number who failed to flee in time were subdued and detained in a scene of chaos.

Hundreds of protesters had regrouped again after retreating earlier when a water cannon truck sprayed blue water to disperse the crowd. They sprayed graffiti and hurled objects over the barricades.

The police squad, backed by scores of riot officers, suddenly streamed out and pursued protesters down roads to nearby areas. They continued to fire multiple rounds of tear gas in the continuing cat-and-mouse battle.

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4:40 p.m.

Riot police in Hong Kong have fired a water cannon and more rounds of tear gas to block protesters from advancing toward the government office complex in the city’s downtown area.

A march by thousands of people who defied a police ban appeared to have fizzled Sunday after riot police used tear gas to disperse the crowd at several spots as they headed toward government headquarters.

A water cannon truck positioned behind barricades surrounding government buildings sprayed blue liquid used to identify protesters, forcing demonstrators to retreat. The scene was similar to clashes on Saturday, when protesters targeted the government complex.

At another street nearby, dozens of black-clad protesters wearing gas masks used their umbrellas to form a shield as they stayed a few hundred meters away from a police cordon. Some picked up tear gas canisters shot at them and threw them back toward the police officers.

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3:25 p.m.

Thousands of protesters have regrouped after police fired tear gas at them and are marching along a thoroughfare in downtown Hong Kong, defying a police ban.

The protesters, some clad in black and carrying umbrellas and pro-democracy posters, are signing songs and chanting “Stand with Hong Kong, fight for freedom” as they took over a stretch of a road over 1 kilometer (1.6 mile) long and heading toward the government office complex.

Many fled earlier after riot police fired multiple rounds of tear gas to disperse a large crowd that amassed at the Causeway Bay shopping area.But protesters returned and started their march shortly after. Some are carrying American and British flags.

Some of them sprayed graffiti along walls and smashed windows at a subway exit. A police helicopter is hovering above.

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2:25 p.m.

Riot police have thrown tear gas and cordoned off part of a street at Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay shopping belt after a large crowd started to amass for an anti-China rally ahead of Tuesday’s National Day celebrations.

Protesters chanted slogans and heckled police as they were pushed back behind a police line. The atmosphere is tense as police warned the crowd they were taking part in an illegal assembly. Officers fired tear gas canisters after some protesters threw bottles and other objects in their direction.

Police earlier searched some protesters and several people were detained. The crowd has swelled to more than 1,000 people, with many spilling into adjacent streets.

Sunday’s gathering, a continuation of monthslong protests for greater democracy, is part of global “anti-totalitarianism” rallies planned in over 60 cities worldwide to denounce “Chinese tyranny.”

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12:05 p.m.

Hundreds of pro-Beijing supporters in Hong Kong sang the Chinese national anthem and waved red flags ahead of China’s National Day to counter pro-democracy protests viewed as a challenge to Beijing’s rule.

Sunday’s show of support for Beijing comes a day after fresh violence in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, with police firing tear gas and water cannons after protesters threw bricks and firebombs at government buildings following a massive rally.

The protests began in June over a now-shelved extradition bill but have snowballed into demands for democratic reforms.

Organizer Innes Tang says Sunday’s event is aimed at backing Chinese sovereignty and calling for peaceful celebrations amid plans for a major protest march that could mar Tuesday’s festivities for the 70th anniversary of the Communist Party taking power.

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