Hong Kong Students Vow Stronger Protests If Leader Stays
Student demonstrators in Hong Kong have vowed to step up their mass pro-democracy protests if Chief Executive CY Leung does not resign.
Student leader Lester Shum said protesters could start occupying government buildings if Mr Leung did not quit by Thursday.
Thousands continue to protest on the streets against China's vetting of candidates for 2017′s leadership poll.
Ex-Governor Chris Patten accused China of reneging on its commitments.
The pro-democracy protests continued throughout Wednesday – China's 65th National Day.
As evening fell, thousands of demonstrators remained camped out at the main protest sites in the Central business district, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok, while a fourth site opened on Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, a major shopping district several roads south of Mong Kok.
Mr Shum, the vice-secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, said: “We hope that by today or tomorrow [Thursday], Leung Chun-ying will… resign.
“Otherwise, we will announce an escalation of our movement, including occupying or surrounding different government buildings.”
Agnes Chow, of the Scholarism student movement, echoed the threat. saying: “If our chief executive and the central government do not respect and listen to our people's opinion, we will consider having different operating actions in future days, including occupying other places like important government offices.”
Chan Kin-man, of the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement, which is also taking part in the protests, urged the students to be peaceful.
But he also called on Mr Leung to quit, saying: “We can talk to anyone in the government except him… resign for the sake of Hong Kong.”
The Wall St Journal quoted a Hong Kong source as saying that Mr Leung was planning to ride out the protests and had been ordered by Beijing not to use violence.
A Reuters Hong Kong government source said: “It may take a week or a month, we don't know. Unless there's some chaotic situation, we won't send in riot police… we hope this doesn't happen.”
Speaking to the BBC, Lord Patten said he did not think China would authorise the use of force.
He said: “I cannot believe it would be so stupid as to do anything like sending in the army.”
Lord Patten accused China of breaching commitments it made to Hong Kong before taking over sovereignty from the UK in 1997.
He said: “They said these matters were within the autonomy of the Hong Kong government and they are now reneging on that.”
Hong Kong is governed under “one country, two systems”, which gives it some autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland. The key to the protests is the interpretation of Hong Kong's goal of “universal suffrage” for the 2017 leadership election.
Beijing ruled last month that although it would allow Hong Kong people to elect their next leader, the choice of candidates would be restricted to those approved by a pro-Beijing committee.
Lord Patten said there must now be “a new period of genuine consultation” over democratic reform.
On Wednesday, Mr Leung was heckled as he addressed a flag-raising ceremony to mark National Day, which celebrates the founding of communist China in 1949.
Mr Leung said: “Hong Kong and the mainland are closely linked in their development. We must work hand in hand to make the Chinese dream come true.”
A fireworks display for the evening was cancelled.
The BBC's Juliana Liu, in Hong Kong, says that many families and parents with young children were on the streets on Wednesday, changing the atmosphere dramatically compared to Sunday, when police fired tear gas and pepper spray at the crowds.
There remain no signs of concessions from Beijing.
In his comments to mark National Day, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to “steadfastly safeguard” Hong Kong's prosperity and stability.
He said: “We must never waver in our faith and must never separate ourselves from the people.”