HK urges end to 'Occupy' protests

Updated: 2014-10-03 12:58

By Joseph Li in Hong Kong(China Daily USA)

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HK urges end to 'Occupy' protests

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (right) and Chief Secretary Carrie Lam walk past a Hong Kong flag as they attend a news conference in Hong Kong on Thursday. Reuters

Demonstrators warned against blocking access to key buildings

The Hong Kong government told protesters on Thursday to stop the "Occupy Central" movement immediately, hours before the midnight deadline set by the demonstrators for the resignation of the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

It appealed to people gathering outside key government buildings not to block access and to disperse peacefully as soon as possible.

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced late Thursday evening that he will not resign and is appointing Chief Secretary Carrie Lam as government representative to talk with students participating in the ongoing Occupy Central movement.

Leung and Lam held a short press conference at Government House in Central District minutes before a deadline set by students group which demands Leung's resignation.

Thousands of protesters blocked major roads in several districts in Hong Kong since Sept 28 to express discontent with electoral reform package for choosing the region's next leader.

Students issued an open letter asking for a meeting with the Chief Secretary on Thursday evening. Leung said the government has studied the letter in detail. Carrie Lam said she wished to contact students as soon as possible to arrange the meeting, but neither she or Leung gave a specific date.

Leung stressed that he will not resign, saying he will continue to work for promoting Hong Kong's constitutional reform which aims at universal suffrage to elect the region's next chief executive in 2017.

The Chief Executive said the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government and the police force have shown the greatest patience and endurance in the past five days.

Leung hoped that all circles in society could continue to carry forward the constitutional reform in a pragmatic, rational and peaceful manner.

Earlier, protest leaders had given the resignation of Leung as one of the preconditions for negotiations with the government. They also said that they will surround government premises if their demands are not met.

Political and business leaders in Hong Kong told protest organizers earlier that the chief executive will not resign as the central and Hong Kong governments and people do not bow to pressure from unreasonable demands.

With Hong Kong ending a two-day public holiday on Friday, about 3,000 government employees are expected to return to work at the Central Government Offices.

Up to 270 bus routes have been suspended or diverted almost half of the public bus services affecting 1.5 million passengers.

Education authorities said all schools in Wan Chai, Central and Western districts will be closed on Friday.

Political leaders warned the protesters not to lay siege to the government headquarters even if their demands were not met by Thursday night.

Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing stressed at a media briefing that the central government will not accept the two demands of the protest organizers - that Leung resign and the National People's Congress Standing Committee revoke its decisions on the city's political reform.

A commentary carried in Thursday's People's Daily said "Occupy Central" is not a form of communication, but confrontation. It will not force the central government to back down.

The article also said the central government has full confidence in Leung and is satisfied with his work.

At a meeting in Washington on Wednesday, when US Secretary of State John Kerry raised his concern over Hong Kong amid the ongoing "Occupy Central" movement, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi quickly pointed out that Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs.

Wang said he believed that no country or society would allow illegal acts that violate public order. "That's the situation in the US and that's the same situation in Hong Kong," he said.

Khon Chan in Hong Kong and Chen Weihua in Washington contributed to the story.

(China Daily USA 10/03/2014 page1)