10/06/2014, 00.00
HONG KONG - CHINA
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Occupy Central: protest continues in a minor key. Glimmers of dialogue between government and democrats

by Paul Wang
A quiet night, even after the ultimatum. Hundreds of young people still present in Admiralty and Mong Kok. Overnight the first direct contact between protesters and the government. Britain "has abandoned Hong Kong" The United States does not want to be "involved".

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of young people and members of Occupy Central remain camped in some of the most important arteries of Hong Kong after the government's ultimatum to clear the sit in from streets after days of protest.

The ultimatum expired last night, but since then nothing has happened because the protesters freed paths to allow employees and workers to get to their jobs. Hundreds of young people however are still in Admiralty and a few hundred in Mong Kok.

The sit-ins were launched at the end of September, after Beijing decided not to grant full democracy to the people of the territory: the election of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage in 2017 will take place, but there will only be three candidates chosen by a committee approved by Beijing.

The peaceful demonstrations were marred by police violence in Admiralty when they charged students with tear gas, batons and pepper spray - and in Mong Kok by pro-Beijing groups of people linked to the Chinese mafia.

The violence brought greater numbers of residents to the streets in the past few evenings to show solidarity and support for democracy.

Currently a number of leading democrats are advising students and Occupy Central to end their protests to avoid an escalation of violence. In recent days, due to the police attacks and those of the Chinese mafia, the pro-Democrats had demanded the resignation of the governor Leung Chun-ying, who has China's full backing, but he has refused. However there are some glimmers of dialogue having opened with the secretary of the government, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet. Already last night groups of students met with members of the government to draw up an agenda for a series of meetings. Any dialogue will be dogged by Beijing's intransigence.

Meanwhile, in China, all the news coming from Hong Kong has been blocked and websites taken down, although many Chinese have been able to overcome the censors filters. Instead of news reports, State media continues to publish editorials in which they condemn the demonstrations as the work of thugs who reject the law and undermine social and the territory's economic harmony.

The pro-democracy protests have received the enthusiastic support of Chinese dissidents and activists - some of whom have been arrested for this - as well as leading personalities from Hong Kong who are living abroad. Many of them have organized demonstrations in dozens of cities around the world. Governments and the international community, while asking China not to use violence, have abstained from showing any strong support. These include Britain - accused by Democratic Anson Chan, former Secretary General of Hong Kong, of having "abandoned" Hong Kong - and the United States, who have decided "not to interfere" to protect its relations with Beijing.

In recent days, all the consulates in Hong Kong had received a letter from the Chinese Foreign Ministry demanding that foreigners do not show support for the protests, or be seen close to the demonstrators.

 

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