ILNA: Hundreds of student activists camped overnight at major protest sites in Hong Kong as the democracy movement sought to regather momentum after the government called off talks with its leaders aimed at defusing unrest in the global financial hub.
Protests escalated late last month, after Beijing’s decision on August ۳۱ to impose conditions for nominations that would effectively stop pro - democracy candidates from contesting an election for the city’s chief executive set for ۲۰۱۷.
The occupation movement suffered a noticeable dip in support over the past week, but strong crowds of over ten thousand returned on Friday evening for a series of rallies in the former British colony.
" We have tents here to show our determination that we’re prepared for a long term occupation, " said Benny Tai, one of the leaders of the movement, said emerging bleary - eyed on Saturday morning from a tent pitched outside the Hong Kong government’s headquarters.
Hong Kong Chief Secretary Carrie Lam said on Thursday that the government had called off talks with the students because of their persistent calls to escalate action.
" It seems like they(the government) don’t want to(have a) conversation with us. But I think this amount of people shows that we really want to solve the problem with the government, " said Kiki Choi, a ۲۵ - year - old art teacher among the protesters.
Since taking to the streets around two weeks ago, the activists have blockaded major roads around the government precinct in Admiralty, as well as the shopping districts of Central and Causeway Bay.
At Friday’s rallies, protest leaders urged demonstrators to prepare for a protracted struggle instead of expanding the protests geographically. The protests have led to some resentment among the public due to the resulting traffic jams and loss of business.
It was unclear how long Hong Kong authorities will tolerate the occupation or how the standoff might be resolved. For now, however, the police presence remains thin with authorities seemingly reluctant to risk fresh flare - ups.
Riot police had cracked down on protesters massing near the government headquarters on Sept. ۲۸, but the authorities have taken a softer line since.
Over one hundred colorful tents were sprinkled across the eight - lane Harcourt Road highway, among scores of red and blue portable marquees serving as supply and first aid stations; stocked with water, biscuits, noodles and cereals.
" Even though it seems things are in a bottleneck now, all we can do is to stay on and continue the occupation, " said Travis Chu, a protester sitting with four friends on the road.
Scores of people ran a marathon in support of the students early on Saturday, and bridges remained festooned with umbrellas, protest art demanding full democracy and satirical images lampooning Leung Chun - ying, the city’s Beijing - backed leader.
The ’Occupy Central’ protests, an idea conceived over a year ago referring to the Central business district, have presented Beijing with one of its biggest political challenges since it crushed pro - democracy demonstrations in and around Tiananmen Square in the Chinese capital in ۱۹۸۹.