HONG KONG: 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.

FRENCH urban climber Alain Robert, popularly known as the “French Spiderman”, secures a banner, showing shaking hands below a depiction of the Chinese and Hong Kong flags, during his ascent of the Cheung Kong Centre building in Hong Kong on Friday. Photo: AFP

“Do you really want (to) shake hands with butchers and dictators,”
tweeted Australia-based Chinese dissident 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. 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. – AFP