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Nearly 2 million protest in Hong Kong, as Chinese forces gather near the border

In Hong Kong, nearly two million people took to the streets in a sweeping show of support for democracy in the Chinese territory. The demonstrations remained peaceful, and Hong Kong police praised the absence of violence. But Chinese military forces are still gathering on the Hong Kong border, and Beijing continues to cast the protesters as criminals. Special correspondent Bruce Harrison reports.

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  • William Brangham:

    Twitter and Facebook today announced the suspension of more than 200,000 accounts. The companies believed they were linked to the Chinese government and were allegedly spreading disinformation.

    That alleged social media influence campaign was designed to tarnish Hong Kong's pro-democracy protest movement, which showed over the weekend the power it wields in sheer numbers out on the streets.

    Special correspondent Bruce Harrison reports from Hong Kong.

  • Bruce Harrison:

    Despite weekend downpours, it was the sea of umbrellas that flooded the streets of Hong Kong. Underneath, nearly two million Hong Kongers in a sweeping show of force for democracy in the Chinese territory.

    The wave of demonstrators kept a relative calm, a rare batch of protests absent of clashes with police. Hong Kongers welcomed the placid change.

  • Man:

    This kind of demonstration is very useful, because it is peaceful, and it is it will do no harm to others. It is a way to express ourselves to the government.

  • Bruce Harrison:

    The Hong Kong police sang their praises, too.

  • Tse Chun-Chung:

    The protest that took place on Sunday shows, if protesters are peaceful, rational and orderly, the police will not and have no reason to intervene. Violence only begets violence.

  • Bruce Harrison:

    But despite the momentary tranquility between demonstrators and Hong Kong authorities, Beijing escalated its military presence this weekend in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong's border with the mainland.

    And, today, China's Foreign Ministry again blasted the protest movement.

  • Geng Shuang (through translator):

    It has been more than two months since the demonstrations and violent criminal activities took place in Hong Kong. Hong Kong's legal system, social order, economy and livelihood have all been seriously impacted.

    It turns out that the so-called democracy and freedom without the rule of law and order will only lead to anarchy.

  • Bruce Harrison:

    Yesterday, President Trump warned that if mainland frustration were to become force in Hong Kong, it would jeopardize a U.S. trade deal with Beijing.

  • President Donald Trump:

    No, I think it'd be very hard to deal if they do violence. I think there'd be tremendous political sentiment not to do something. So I hope, because I think we can end up doing a very good deal.

  • Bruce Harrison:

    Meanwhile, some Hong Kong businesses are embracing the democracy movement, like this bakery, which is showing support with traditional Chinese delicacy mooncakes, featuring pro-democracy slogans. Customers think it's a small way to support something bigger than themselves.

  • Sandy Lam (through translator):

    We just want to fight for what Hong Kong people deserve. Our generation didn't do our job, and this caused a burden to the younger generation. I think young people now have a clear mind, and they know exactly what they want.

  • Bruce Harrison:

    But Beijing has its supporters in the semiautonomous territories, too. Counterprotesters this weekend said they have had enough.

  • Yi Wei (through translator):

    We cannot tolerate this kind of action anymore. You can express your political opinion, but you cannot put it into violence. You cannot affect other people's normal life. It's the bottom line.

  • Bruce Harrison:

    While there's optimism Sunday's protest marks a turning point away from the often violent demonstrations, the peace here is still very fragile.

    Protesters say the current detente provides the government a rare window to answer their demands, but, if not, the street clashes may return.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Bruce Harrison in Hong Kong.

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