HONG KONG: Decked out in colorful climbing gear, French “Spiderman” Alain Robert climbed up the Cheung Kong Centre in downtown Hong Kong, the nerve centre of billionaire Li Ka-Shing’s business empire, to unfurl a banner on the building’s exterior.
The banner depicted juxtaposed flags of Hong Kong and China atop a symbolic handshake, a seeming plea for peace between Hong Kong and China, after 11 weeks of escalating tense face-offs between black-clad protesters and Hong Kong police.
AFP identified Robert who has scaled many buildings around the world. A representative for the building’s management said police and firefighters had arrived at the scene.
The ad-hoc action coincided with a series of ads that Li, known locally as Superman for his business and investment acumen, took out in local newspapers Friday, including one urging “Love Hong Kong, love China, love yourself.”
Hong Kong’s protesters have sustained their momentum for weeks through summer heat, clouds of tear gas and increasingly aggressive police tactics. The historic movement erupted in early June in opposition to legislation that would allow extraditions to mainland China for the first time, and has since widened to include calls for leader Carrie Lam to resign.
Sporadic mass weekend marches have given way to unruly demonstrations on a near-daily basis, spanning from the city center to far-flung neighborhoods. Tactics have also shifted, with protesters using flash mobs and strikes to shut down subway lines, major roads and even the international airport. Hong Kong police have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and arrests.