Hong Kong students vow stronger protests if leader stays

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Media captionCarrie Gracie reports from Hong Kong, where protesters have lit up the streets in the main financial district

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."

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Image caption Agnes Chow said "different operations" were being considered by the protesters
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Image caption One of the student leaders, Joshua Wong, addresses the crowds in Central

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."

Analysis: BBC's Fergal Keane, Hong Kong

This crisis is about the most fundamental promise of democracy: who should choose the man or woman who governs Hong Kong?

The nub of the argument is with Article 45 of the Basic Law - the agreement that underpinned Hong Kong's transition from British to Chinese rule.

It says the "ultimate aim" should be to elect the chief executive by universal suffrage. To that end, the law stipulated that a "broadly representative" nominating committee should select candidates for election.

But in August, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's rubber stamp parliament, ruled that candidates needed to get more than half the votes of that committee. Pro-democracy activists sensed a stitch-up: they believe the committee will be loaded with Beijing's supporters and will ensure China controls nominations.

This is not a campaign to change China or overthrow the Communist Party, but a passionately local campaign for a big principle.

Hong Kong trades amid the protests

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Image caption Hong Kong government sources say the administration may try to wait out the protests
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Image caption Wednesday's protests coincided with China's National Day

China 'reneging'

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."

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Media captionAs Celia Hatton reports, the protest is not really making waves in mainland China

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."

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Image caption Protesters have called on the chief executive to resign

Later, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is in Washington meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry, insisted the protests were "China's internal affairs".

He also warned that no country would "allow those illegal acts that violate public order".

Mr Kerry said he hoped the Hong Kong government would "exercise restraint and respect for the protesters' right to express their views peacefully".

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.

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Media captionA drone captured the scale of the protests on Monday 29 September

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."

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.

Hong Kong democracy timeline

  • 1997: Hong Kong, a former British colony, is handed back to China under an 1984 agreement giving it "a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs" for 50 years
  • 2004: China rules that its approval must be sought for changes to Hong Kong's election laws
  • June-July 2014: Pro-democracy activists hold an unofficial referendum on political reform and a large rally, which is followed by protests by pro-Beijing activists
  • 31 August 2014: China says it will allow direct elections in 2017, but voters will only be able to choose from a list of pre-approved candidates; activists stage protests
  • 22 September 2014: Student groups launch a week-long boycott of classes in protest
  • 2017: Direct elections for chief executive due to take place
  • 2047: Expiry of current agreements

Q&A: Hong Kong's democracy controversy