‘French Spiderman’ scales HK skyscraper with ‘peace banner’

HONG KONG (AFP) – Daredevil Alain Robert – dubbed the ‘French Spiderman’ – climbed a Hong Kong skyscraper yesterday and unfurled a “peace banner” as the financial hub is rocked by historic political unrest.

The 57-year-old adventurer, who specialises in unsanctioned ascents of tall buildings, shimmied up the 68-storey Cheung Kong Centre in Hong Kong’s main

business district in hot and humid conditions yesterday morning.

During the climb he attached a banner featuring the Hong Kong and Chinese flags, as well as two hands shaking.

Prior to the ascent Robert put out a statement saying the message of his climb was to make “an urgent appeal for peace and consultation between Hong Kong people and their government”.

“Perhaps what I do can lower the temperature and maybe raise a smile. That’s my hope anyway,” Robert said in his media statement.

But many were unimpressed.

“Do you really want (to) shake hands with dictators,” tweeted Australia-based Chinese artist Badiucao.

“This shows many foreigners don’t understand the underlying issue between Hong Kong and China,” a user wrote on a popular forum.

Hong Kong has been battered by 10 weeks of huge – sometimes violent – democracy protests.

They were sparked by opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the mainland, but have since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights.

The movement represents the greatest challenge to Beijing’s authority since the city was handed back by the British in 1997 under a deal that allowed it to keep freedoms that many Hong Kongers feel are now being eroded.

So far neither Beijing, nor the city’s loyalist leaders, have made any major concessions to the movement.

Robert has regularly come to Hong Kong to scale buildings in a city that boasts the highest concentration of skyscrapers in the world.

He has climbed the Cheung Kong Centre twice before.

Last August, he was banned by a Hong Kong court from making any more climbs after he was charged over a 2011 illegal ascent of the 27-floor Hang Seng Bank building.

At the time he vowed to return to Hong Kong as soon as the ban expired.

In January, he was arrested after climbing a 47-storey tower in Manila.

French urban climber Alain Robert secures a banner during his ascent of the Cheung Kong Centre building in Hong Kong. PHOTO: AFP