Video Keywords Communist China Chinese Government police fired tear gas Taiwan China Associated Press
Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong set a Wednesday deadline for a response from the government to meet their demands for reforms after spending another night blocking streets in an unprecedented show of civil disobedience. (Sept. 30) AP
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HONG KONG — Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents marked China’s National Day holiday on Wednesday with another show of defiance toward the city’s pro-Beijing government, but there were no immediate signs authorities would try to disperse the pro-democracy demonstrators.
Student leaders of the protests vowed that if Hong Hong’s leader doesn’t resign by Thursday they will occupy several important government buildings, a scenario that raises the stakes for both sides because such a move is not likely to be tolerated by authorities.
Earlier Wednesday, activists protested outside a government flag-raising ceremony to mark the anniversary of the founding of communist China in 1949. Hong Kong’s embattled leader Leung Chun-ying was heckled as he spoke at the reception and hundreds of protesters jeered the Chinese national flag as helicopters flew above Victoria Harbor.
In his speech, Leung made no direct mention of the protesters, who have blocked streets for days across the semiautonomous territory to press demands for genuine democratic reforms for Hong Kong’s first direct elections in 2017 to choose the city’s top leader.
Student leader Joshua Wong, the 17-year-old founder of the influential Scholarism protest movement, led 30 people who turned their backs on the flag near the flag-raising ceremony in the Wanchai district, “to show our disagreement towards the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), especially for the decision made on political reform in Hong Kong,” he said.
The holiday will last for two days. With schools and offices closed, Wong expects even larger numbers on the streets to demand Leung’s resignation and that Beijing withdraw its decision requiring a panel approved by the Chinese government to screen candidates for the Hong Kong leader role, known as chief executive.
“I hope the people will keep safe and still rely on the principle of non-violence,” said Wong.
Still, with neither officials nor the founders of the pro-democracy movement appearing ready to compromise it’s not clear what happens next.
Authorities have already cancelled a planned Wednesday evening firework show and Leung has called the protests illegal and said Beijing will not change its mind over its electoral decision.
Ken Tong, 28, an engineer, would normally spend National Day relaxing with relatives. “But this is a critical event, people come here to show their voice not only to the Hong Kong government but also the mainland China government that we must have a free choice of chief executive,” he said.
“We want more than the chief executive resigning … if the system doesn’t change Beijing will just send anyone to sit as chief executive, and nothing changes,” Tong said.
Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong dismissed the protests Wednesday. “The sun rises as usual,” said Zhang Xiaoming, director of the central government’s liaison office, reported the South China Morning Post.
China has criticized the protests as unlawful and Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed in a National Day speech to “steadfastly safeguard” Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability. So far, China has not overtly intervened in the situation.
“Frankly, if I was a government official, I would not have a clue how to solve this,” said Chit Lau, a 35-year-old pilot told the Associated Press, adding he thought the stalemate would continue until Leung or some other top official resigned, or the army clashed with the people.
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