Hong Kong protests: Talks accepted amid protest stand-off – BBC News

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Hong Kong protests: Talks accepted amid protest stand-off – BBC Newsby wpjljron.Hong Kong protests: Talks accepted amid protest stand-off – BBC News 3 October 2014 Last updated at 07:33 Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play. Babita Sharma reports from a rally outside Hong Kong’s […]

Babita Sharma reports

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Babita Sharma reports from a rally outside Hong Kong’s government offices

Protesters in Hong Kong have accepted an offer of talks with the government after a week of unrest.

Chief Executive CY Leung Leung offered the talks with his deputy late on Thursday but rejected calls to resign.

The protesters, angry at China’s plan to vet election candidates, have been occupying parts of the city since the weekend, though numbers have fallen.

Beijing has thrown its full support behind Mr Leung, calling the protests illegal and “doomed to fail”.

On Friday Hong Kong temporarily closed government offices in the main protest-hit area, saying staff should work from home because roads were blocked.

Though the protests were significantly smaller on Friday, some groups remained on the streets, and were quarrelling with members of the public objecting to the blockades, according to the South China Morning Post.

Hong Kong's Chief Executive CY Leung

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Chief Executive CY Leung: “I want to continue my task of ensuring the one-person one-vote election can take place in Hong Kong”

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Saira Asher, BBC News, Hong Kong

Protest leaders are meeting outside the government buildings in Admiralty, central Hong Kong to decide their next steps. But the numbers have dwindled early on Friday here at the main protest site and outside CY Leung’s office.

The mood is a lot more subdued than on Thursday night when hundreds of protestors were pulling on masks and plastic covers and facing down the police.

Many of the demonstrators have vowed to come back later but with no date set for the talks between Chief Secretary Carrie Lam and the protestors its unclear whether they can keep up the momentum.

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‘Turning point’

The Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) said it would have a public meeting with Ms Lam, but insisted that Mr Leung should step down, saying he had “lost his integrity”.

The Occupy Central movement issued a statement saying it hoped “the talks can provide a turning point in the current political stalemate”. It also called for Mr Leung’s resignation.

But Benny Tai, co-founder of Occupy, also visited students outside government offices – who have reportedly attempted to block supplies from reaching the police – and urged them to show understanding.

“Everyone loves Hong Kong and we all hope to have a peaceful and just society, and on this journey we must show inclusivity,” he said, according to Apple Daily.

Protester arguing with police officer

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“The night is awash with anger and fear”, reports the BBC’s China editor Carrie Gracie in Hong Kong

‘Serious consequences’

The students had threatened to escalate their protests and occupy government buildings if Mr Leung did not resign by Thursday night.

But hours before the deadline, he said in a news briefing: “I will not resign because I have to continue with the work for elections.” He warned that any attempts to occupy buildings would lead to “serious consequences”.

Police line up next to government offices in Hong Kong on 3 October 2014Police remain on guard outside government offices on Friday morning

A boy takes pictures as he sits next to a wall covered with messages written by protesters outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on 2 October 2014Protesters have covered the wall of this government building with messages

At the heart of the row is how Hong Kong elects its next leader. In August, Beijing ruled that while Hong Kong residents would have a vote, their choice of candidates would be restricted by a committee.

The protesters say this falls short of the free elections they are seeking.

The BBC’s Celia Hatton in Beijing says China has taken a tough stance, saying there is absolutely no room for concessions.

Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, in its latest editorial, said Beijing’s ruling in August was “the necessary decision, and the only decision”, and that the protests were “doomed to fail”.

Writing in the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s last British governor before the territory was handed back to China in 1997, Chris Patten, said that “open and honest” consultations were the way forward now.

“Dialogue is the only sensible way forward. Hong Kong’s citizens are not irresponsible or unreasonable. A decent compromise that allows for elections that people can recognise as fair, not fixed, is surely available.”

The US consul general to Hong Kong Clifford Hart said in a Facebook statement that “the common desire for Hong Kong’s welfare provides an excellent basis for launching dialogue”.

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Hong Kong democracy timeline

  • 1997: UK gives Hong Kong back to China under a 1984 agreement giving it “a high degree of autonomy” for 50 years
  • 2004: China says it must approve any changes to Hong Kong’s election laws
  • June-July 2014: Pro-democracy activists hold an unofficial referendum on political reform; both sides hold large rallies
  • 31 August 2014: China says it will allow direct elections in 2017 but will pre-approve candidates
  • 22 September 2014: Student groups launch a week-long boycott of classes
  • 28 September 2014: Occupy Central and student protests join forces and take over central Hong Kong
  • 2017: Direct elections for chief executive due to take place
  • 2047: Expiry of current agreements

Q&A: Hong Kong’s democracy controversy

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Source Article from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-29471027


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