IN BRIEF: Pro-democracy protests are continuing in Hong Kong Wednesday as China celebrates the National Day holiday. Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung has refused to meet with protest leaders despite their Tuesday ultimatum for him to step down by October 1.
+++ ALL TIMES HONG KONG TIME +++
7.45pm: The crowds are out in force again tonight:
— Anuj Chopra (@AnujChopra) October 1, 2014
1.05pm: ANALYSIS: Hong Kong: Best and worst case scenarios
It is unsure how seriously Beijing will take the Umbrella Movement’s insult after students called October 1 the “deadline” for Beijing to back down on democracy. Protest numbers are expected to far surpass anything we have seen so far. If the police continue to maintain their cool – and the mainland authorities allow Hong Kong to handle the events as they have said they would do – so that there are no major clashes, the protests are likely to peak.
11.26am: National Day celebrations continue in China with no mention of the situation in Hong Kong
10.12am: Under-fire Hong Kong leader marks Chinese National Day, won’t meet with protesters. He said:
It’s understandable that different people have different opinions on the ideal proposal for constitutional reform, but having universal suffrage is definitely better that not having it. It’s definitely better to have five million people vote to elect a chief executive than 1,200. Going to the voting booth to cast a ballot is definitely better than watching on TV from home as the 1,200 committee members vote.
+++ TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 +++
8.32pm: Protesters are out in force again in Hong Kong tonight as police keep a low profile:
5.5opm: Joseph Chang, political-science professor at City University in Hong Kong, tells Asian Correspondent:
At this time, the authorities are re-thinking their options. They realise it is counter-productive to take a hard-line approach against the protestors. … People acted spontaneously [on the weekend when joining the protests]. They were not following the call from pro-democracy party leaders, but were angry by what they saw from the police and took to the streets themselves to vent.
3.56pm: The Wall Street Journal reports a “festive atmosphere” on the streets of Hong Kong today, even as worries remain over the possibility of a police crackdown ahead of tomorrow’s National Day holiday:
Crowds were thinner early Tuesday but were expected to grow again as the day progressed. Larger marches were expected on Wednesday, the National Day holiday, when the protests had originally been scheduled to begin. Protesters said they worried police would try to clear them out before the holiday. “Tonight will be critical,” said Joanne Chung, a 24-year-old management trainee at a bank who joined the protest. “Everybody should be alert.”
1.50pm: Crowds appear to be building again on the streets of Hong Kong again this afternoon:
12.23pm: Twitter has released this gallery of the most-shared images from the Occupy Central protests: 12.05pm: The below image was posted to what appears to be the official Instagram account of Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan Monday despite widespread reports that social network was blocked in China amid the protests in Hong Kong: 12pm: Crowds appear to be very small compared to yesterday:
11.41am: This amazing video from Nero Chan’s Facebook page shows amazing drone footage of Monday’s protests:
10.39am: Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung said in a press conference this morning that the government will not change its stance on universal suffrage despite “illegal” protests. He added that he is confident that Hong Kong police can deal with the situation and he will not be seeking the assistance of the People’s Liberation Army.
10.12am: Reuters reports that protesters are stockpiling supplies amid increasing concerns of a police crackdown ahead of Wednesday’s National Day report:
Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters extended a blockade of Hong Kong streets on Tuesday, stockpiling supplies and erecting makeshift barricades ahead of what some fear may be a push by police to clear the roads before Chinese National Day.
Throughout the night, rumours rippled through crowds of protesters that police were preparing to move in again. As the sun rose many remained wary, especially on the eve of Wednesday’s anniversary of the Communist Party’s foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
9.55am: Occupy Central organizers have issued this ultimatum to Chief Executive CY Leung on Twitter this morning:
Now pro-democracy groups give CYLeung til Oct to meet our demands. If he doesn’t, we will release plans for next stage of civil disobedience
— Occupy Central 和平佔中 (@OCLPHK) September 30, 2014
9.53am: Some protesters remain on the streets of Hong Kong this morning:
9.12am: Pro-democracy protesters are undertaking a massive clean-up on the streets of Hong Kong this morning after huge crowds took to the streets overnight calling for universal suffrage and for HK Chief Executive CY Leung to step down. The protests passed off peacefully last night and thousands remain on the streets for a third consecutive day of action.
6.15am: AP reports that the US has urged Hong Kong authorities to show restraint in the face of pro-democracy protests:
White House press secretary Josh Earnest says the United States supports freedom of expression and peaceful assembly for the people of Hong Kong. … Earnest says the United States believes the legitimacy of the office will be enhanced if they are given a “genuine choice of candidates.” Earnest says Hong Kong needs an open society with the highest degree of autonomy.
+++ MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 +++ 10.55pm:
10.22pm: There is a police presence at the protest sites in Hong Kong tonight but they are keeping a low profile, according to witnesses.
7.53pm: There is a peaceful and positive atmosphere reported in Hong Kong tonight as huge crowds call on Chief Executive CY Leung to step down:
7.20pm: ANALYSIS: China underestimates Hong Kong’s resolve 6.50pm: Police said earlier today that there were 41 minor casualties in clashes on Sunday and early Monday morning, 12 of them police. A video of the press conference can be seen here.
6.24am: It looks like it could be another long night for protesters and police in Hong Kong:
6.12pm: The British Foreign Office has said in a statement that it is “concerned about the situation in Hong Kong” and “encourages all parties to engage in constructive discussion.” Key excerpt:
Hong Kong’s prosperity and security are underpinned by its fundamental rights and freedoms… These freedoms are best guaranteed by the transition to universal suffrage.
5.22pm: Hong Kong police said today that they fired 87 rounds of tear gas in clashes with protestors Sunday. 5.11pm: The crowds on the streets are continuing to swell as people join the protestors after getting off work:
4.40pm: Hong Kong’s fireworks display to celebrate National Day on October 1 has been cancelled, according to reports. 3.40pm: Cardinal John Tong of Hong Kong Diocese has called on the Hong Kong government to “put the personal safety of fellow citizens as her prime concern, exercising restraint in deployment of force with a view to listening the voice of the younger generation and of citizens from all walks of life”. 3.35pm:
1.52pm: A couple of the better signs from today’s pro-democracy protests in Beijing:
12.23pm: The US Consulate in Hong Kong has released a statement on the weekend’s protests and clashes in Hong Kong. Key excerpt:
We do not take sides in the discussion of Hong Kong’s political development, nor do we support any particular individuals or groups involved in it.
11.47pm: No sign of protestors backing down despite authorities’ claims they have removed riot police from streets:
11.45pm: A number of sources are reporting that authorities have withdrawn riot police from the streets of Hong Kong and are asking pro-democracy protestors to disperse.
11.40am: It has been peaceful in Hong Kong so far this morning, but protestors are remaining defiant:
11.34am: Why the fuss in Hong Kong? It goes back to this decision taken in Beijing on Aug. 31:
BEIJING (AP) — China’s legislature has ruled out open nominations in elections for Hong Kong’s leader.
The legislature’s standing committee announced Sunday that all candidates must receive more than half of votes from a special nominating body before going before voters.
11.20am: Umbrellas. They’re not just for blocking pepper spray:
11.14am: Hong Kong’s Central Bank has said 17 banks have been affected by the pro-democracy protests. Twenty-nine branches/ATMs are closed and other services have been disrupted. 10.47am: Many of Hong Kong’s busiest streets, subway and intersections are deserted this morning as pro-democracy activists continue their push for universal suffrage. Many transport routes in the city have been suspended and many schools and businesses are closed.
10.20: Hong Kong’s stock exchange and currency struggle in early Monday trading: The BBC reports:
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell nearly 2% while its currency hit a six-month low against the US dollar. … Several large banks have said they will be suspending operations in Hong Kong.
10.10: Unsurprisingly, censorship of discussion of developments in HK has been alive and well in China over the weekend:
10.01am: Many of the protesters on the streets today appear to be students who staged last week’s class boycott:
Dozens of demonstrators at CWB are HKUST students who came at 4am after deciding on campus to take action — Occupy Central 和平佔中 (@OCLPHK) September 29, 2014
8.54am: This YouTube video from what appear to be Sunday’s clashes so a policeman pepper-spraying a protestor at point blank range:
8.43am: BBC reports on reaction from Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung:
Hong Kong’s chief executive reassured the public that rumours the Chinese army might intervene were untrue.
“I hope the public will keep calm. Don’t be misled by the rumours,” CY Leung said.
“Police will strive to maintain social order, including ensuring smooth traffic and ensuring public safety.”
7.15am: A brief AP report on Sunday’s clashes on the streets of Hong Kong:
Hong Kong police have used tear gas to try to clear a huge crowd of pro-democracy protesters who had gathered outside government headquarters.
Police lobbed canisters of tear gas into the crowd on Sunday evening after spending hours holding the protesters at bay.
The searing fumes from tear gas sent protesters fleeing down the road.
Authorities launched their crackdown after the protest spiraled into an extraordinary scene of chaos as the crowd jammed a busy road and clashed with officers wielding pepper spray.
The protesters were trying tried to reach a mass sit-in being held outside government headquarters to demand Beijing grant genuine democratic reforms to the former British colony.