Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Talks between the Government of Hong Kong and representatives of the students, on strike since 22 September, have been set for 4 pm this Friday.
Only one of two pro-democracy student groups will be present at the meeting. Occupy Central will also not be represented. Hong Kong's Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will represent the government. The names of students' representatives have not been released yet.
The meeting's agenda remains a bone of contention. Students want to discuss genuine universal suffrage and public nomination of chief executive candidates, whilst the government wants the initial talks to centre on the constitutional basis for changes to the political system to be followed by talks on the legal requirements for reform.
Lester Shum, a leader of one of the main pro-democracy student groups, said he was "angry and disappointed" for the decision.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong streets seem to be back to normal. A few hundred young people and other protesters continue to picket the central district. Barricades are still there, but traffic is normal and shops have reopened.
Meanwhile, the battle to resolve the stalemate has spilled over to the legislature, with its first post-summer meeting postponed for a week amid safety concerns.
Pro-democracy legislators accuse the government of trying to avoid addressing the issue of police use of force against students.
China's great dissident Bao Tong wades into the issue in a text cited yesterday by Card Zen. In it, Zhao Ziyang's former personal secretary and friend, says he is proud of the protesters, who refuse "to be slaves."
However, from house arrest in Beijing, he calls on the people of Hong Kong to take a rest from the protests. "The seeds have already been sown, and they need time to lie fallow." The full text follows (courtesy of Radio Free Asia).
True patriots are those who say "no" to fake universal suffrage. They are "the ones who don't wish to be slaves" [in China's national anthem.]
So I am naturally proud of those who put the principles of "a high degree of autonomy," and "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong," into practice.
So, transportation and some businesses in Hong Kong appear to have been paralyzed. We should ask who is responsible for this, and what has caused this state of affairs?
Some say it was caused by the Occupy Central campaign.
That's wrong. Occupy Central was forced into existence after the legitimate rights of citizens were denied them.
At the heart of the matter, the responsibility lies with bureaucrats acting on their own and not serving any master.
The same people say: "If the demonstrations continue, our political and economic system will be damaged. The thing we fear most of all is damage to, and loss of confidence in, Hong Kong's market. This sort of damage will be permanent, and we can't afford it."
Consensus view of history
Actually, if the National People's Congress refuses to rescind its [Aug. 31] announcement; if "one country, two systems," becomes "one country, one system," then Hong Kong's political and economic system will certainly be damaged, and that thing we fear the most, that damage to and loss of confidence in Hong Kong's markets will come about.
I have no doubt that one day, this view will have become the consensus view of history. But saying it out loud now, I don't think it has much chance of being heard. This will take at least a little time.
If I were one of the protesters, I would probably want a rest from the debate for a while.
The seeds have already been sown, and they need time to lie fallow.
No great task can be achieved all at once; they all need some time to gestate. There's no need to keep digging up the seeds to see if they're still growing every day.
Take a break, for the sake of future room to grow. For tomorrow.