ILNA: Fearing a police crackdown, Hong Kong pro - democracy protesters bowed to government pressure and said they would lift a blockade of key government buildings, but student leaders braced for a showdown in the heart of the Asian financial center; Reuters
Tens of thousands of protesters have staged sit - ins across Hong Kong over the past week, demanding the city’s pro - Beijing leader Leung Chun - ying step down and for the right to vote for a leader of their choice in ۲۰۱۷.
Leung warned late on Saturday that the ’Occupy Central’ movement could get " out of control, causing serious consequence to public safety and social order ".
Student activists, established protest groups and ordinary Hong Kongers have joined forces to present Beijing with one of its biggest political challenges since it violently crushed pro - democracy protests in and around Tiananmen Square in ۱۹۸۹.
The protests, which have been dismissed by the Communist Party leadership in Beijing as illegal, have caused uncertainty in the business sector and contributed to a more than ۷ percent slide in share prices in the city last month.
Financial Secretary John Tsang wrote in his blog on Sunday that Hong Kong was at a critical moment and what worried him most was that they city’s " financial foundations and core values have inevitably been shaken ".
In a statement, Leung said " the most urgent thing " was to clear access to the government headquarters on Monday " so ۳,۰۰۰ government staff can go to work normally and serve citizens ".
Leader of the " Occupy Central " movement Benny Tai told a mass rally late on Saturday that protesters should cede to the government’s demand.
" We only target CY(Leung), not other government officials. By opening a route, CY will have no reason or excuse to clear our occupation and spread foul rumors, " he told thousands of mainly young protesters holding smartphone torchlights aloft.
Student leaders signaled they were bracing for a showdown in the heart of the city, the epicenter of protests which have spread to three other areas of the former British colony which was returned to China in ۱۹۹۷.
" We must take care in the coming days. In the face of violence we must remain steadfast and brave. This is only the calm before the storm but the Hong Kong people here with us tonight proves our strength, " Alex Chow, leader of Hong Kong Federation of Students, said late on Saturday.
The student group pulled out of planned talks with the government after clashes on Friday at a protest site in the teeming suburb of Mong Kok, across the harbor. The students accused authorities of colluding with criminal gangs to orchestrate trouble.
Chow held out the prospect of rejoining the dialogue if policing at protest sites improved.
Sporadic clashes continued overnight in Mong Kok, with police resorting to pepper spray and batons.
" How long will we stay? Until we win this war, " Jericho Li, a ۱۹ - year - old student, told Reuters in Mong Kok. " I don’t think we will leave. All the people here are ready(for the consequences). "
with the mood seesawing between chaos to one of calm with an almost carnival feel as protesters played guitars and drums, while others danced. Tens of thousands in Admiralty late on Saturday dwindled to hundreds early on Sunday as many people went home to rest before returning in the evening.