Hong Kong's pro-democracy demonstrators have occupied busy thoroughfares, set up camps in teeming neighborhoods and barricaded the offices of some of the city's most powerful officials. But, on Thursday, they took their protest to new heights.
A group of protesters climbed the city's iconic Lion Rock, a peak located between the areas of Kowloon and New Territories, across the harbor from Hong Kong island. There, they dropped a yellow banner along its cliff face that reads "I want real universal suffrage."
The protesters have camped out in various parts of the city for almost a month now, agitating for democratic reforms in the Chinese territory. Many in the movement fear that Beijing is chipping away at Hong Kong's unique freedoms and are also frustrated with the city's plutocratic status quo, where tycoons and pro-Beijing officials lord over one of the most unequal societies on the planet.
Isabella Steger of the Wall Street Journal explains the potent symbolism of Lion Rock:
Lion Rock, which sits between Kowloon and the New Territories, was named for its resemblance to a lion. In Hong Kong, the rock is now synonymous with the tenacity and can-do attitude associated with Hong Kong people. The term was popularized by a TV show called “Below the Lion Rock
,” which first aired in the 1970s and explored the lives of working-class people in Hong Kong, particularly those who had fled mainland China to settle in the former British colony. The show depicted the lives of people living around Lion Rock in areas such as Wong Tai Sin and Kowloon City, known for their slums and dense public housing developments.
Police have yet to remove the banner, saying it's up to the city's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. Here's a video of the protesters' stunt.
Photos of Lion Rock proliferated on social media...
..and spawned many memes: