Around 200 Hong Kong protesters have marched to the home of the city’s Beijing-backed leader to push their case for greater democracy a day after talks between student leaders and senior officials failed to break the deadlock.
Others continued to occupy main streets in the Chinese-controlled city, where they have camped for nearly a month in protest against a central government plan that would give Hong Kong people the chance to vote for their own leader in 2017 but tightly restrict the candidates.
Expectations had been low for a breakthrough in Tuesday’s televised talks. On one side of the table sat the five students in jeans and black T-shirts. Facing them were five seasoned government officials in formal suits.
As student leaders considered whether to meet officials again, protesters vowed to keep occupying the protest zones, unhappy about what they felt was a lack of substantive concessions. Andy Lau, a 19-year-old college student, said now was the time to step things up.
“I think it is time to seriously consider escalating the movement, such as expanding our occupation to many more places to pressure the government to really face and answer our demands,” he said.
The protesters want Hong Kong’s government to abandon a requirement by China’s legislature for a committee to screen candidates for the elections. The students say it gives the city’s pro-Beijing elite too much say.
Demonstrators marching to the home the city’s Chief Executive, Leung Chunying, repeated calls for him to step down. Many were angry at remarks he made this week that more representative democracy was unacceptable in part because it would result in poorer people having more say in politics.
Mr Leung told reporters before Tuesday’s talks that the panel that picks candidates for the 2017 election could be made “more democratic”. That was the first indication of a possible concession.
The endgame for the protests remains unclear. Hong Kong’s High Court issued injunctions this week barring protesters from blocking roads, but the police appeared unwilling or incapable of carrying them out.
This afternoon, a handful of taxi drivers who had filed the injunction turned up at the Mong Kok demonstration zone, on the Kowloon side of the harbour, and started to pull apart makeshift barricades. Police intervened to calm the situation.
Best-selling US musician Kenny G has appeared among Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, prompting the country’s Foreign Ministry to warn foreigners over intervention in events in Hong Kong.
The saxophonist, whose real name is Kenny Gorelick, confirmed he had visited after pictures of him appeared on Twitter.
China’s Foreign Ministry said it did not know any details about Mr Gorelick’s visit. “Kenny G’s musical works are widely popular in China, but China’s position on the illegal Occupy Central activities in Hong Kong is very clear,” Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
“We hope that foreign governments and individuals speak and act cautiously and not support the Occupy Central and other illegal activities in any form,” she added.