Hong Kong protesters warned not to return to clash site

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Media caption"Hong Kong was turned into a battle zone" reports Martin Patience

Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung has warned pro-democracy activists not to return to the streets following the latest outbreak of violence.

His comments come after some of the worst clashes between protesters and police since the pro-democracy demonstrations began two months ago.

Police armed with pepper spray, batons and water hoses cleared activists from Lung Wo Road in the Admiralty district.

Government offices were briefly shut on Monday.

In another development, prominent student leader Joshua Wong announced on Monday that he and two others were beginning a hunger strike to demand renewed talks with the Hong Kong government.

"Living in these troubled times, there is a duty. Today we are willing to pay the price," the students said in a statement.

Student leaders opened talks with government negotiators in October but they failed to achieve an agreement and discussions have not been resumed.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Student leader Joshua Wong is demanding that Hong Kong's leaders resume talks on the 2017 elections

Earlier, in a move which prompted fears of further violence, an injunction was granted to clear an area just west of the main protest site in Admiralty.

"From this day on, the police will take resolute action when carrying out their duties. I call on the students who are thinking of returning to the occupation area tonight not to do so," Mr Leung said.

"Don't mistake the police tolerance as weakness."

Protesters want the people of Hong Kong to be allowed to choose their leaders in the 2017 elections without intervention from Beijing.

The Chinese government has said it will allow direct elections, but candidates for the post of chief executive will be screened first.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police said 40 protesters were arrested in the overnight clashes
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police rushed at protesters on Lung Wo Road tunnel
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Batons and pepper spray were used by the police in the operation
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung says the police response will be "resolute"

The unrest flared late on Sunday, after student protest leaders called on supporters to converge on the offices of Mr Leung on Lung Wo Road.

The road is a short distance away from Connaught Road in Admiralty, the major road protesters have been occupying for two months.

The court injunction calls for the dismantling of barricades in part of Connaught Road and Harcourt Road, just west of the main Admiralty protest camp.

Protesters, many wearing hard hats and carrying umbrellas - the symbol of their movement - moved into Lung Wo Road on Sunday, throwing bottles, helmets and umbrellas towards police.

Police ordered them to retreat, then charged at protesters, eventually forcing them out of the area. Police said that 40 people were arrested and a number of officers were injured.

On Monday morning government offices were shut and staff were told to stay at home, but government employees were back at work by the afternoon.

Last week, police dismantled one of the three major protest camps in the Mong Kok commercial district and made 100 arrests.

'Overt confrontation'

China has meanwhile hit back at criticism of its decision to bar a UK parliamentary committee from entering Hong Kong, a former British colony.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing had made clear to the UK government many times that it opposed "the so-called delegation of the British parliament's foreign affairs committee going to Hong Kong for a so-called investigation".

She described the MPs' move as "overt confrontation" in a riposte to the committee's chairman, Sir Richard Ottaway, who accused China on Sunday of acting in an "overtly confrontational manner".

Hong Kong democracy timeline

  • 1984: Britain and China sign an agreement where Hong Kong is guaranteed "a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs" for 50 years following the handover in 1997.
  • June-July 2014: Pro-democracy activists hold an unofficial referendum on political reform and a large rally. This 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.
  • 28 September 2014: Occupy Central and student protests join forces and take over central Hong Kong.
  • October 2014: Chief Executive CY Leung dismisses demands for his resignation. Discussions between government and student leaders go nowhere. High court begins granting injunctions to clear protest sites.
  • 15 November 2014: Student leaders' attempt to travel to Beijing fails.
  • 18 November 2014: Bailiffs move in to clear a portion of the Admiralty protest site.
  • 26 November 2014: More than 100 arrests during clearance of Mong Kok site.
  • 2017: Direct elections for chief executive due to take place.

Q&A: Hong Kong's democracy controversy