Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters strengthened barricades around the government’s main office building, digging in ahead of talks pledged by top official Leung Chun-ying aimed at defusing a week-long standoff.
The protests spurred by China’s decision last month that candidates for a 2017 leadership election must be vetted by a committee pose one of the biggest challenges Chinese President Xi Jinping has faced since taking over the Communist Party two years ago, as he seeks to stamp out corruption and dissent at home. Demonstrators see the protests as a last chance to secure democracy for Hong Kong and force China to respect the “One Country, Two Systems” pledge it made when it took control of Hong Kong in 1997 after 156 years of British colonial rule.
Hong Kong police fired tear gas and pepper spray on pro-democracy demonstrators who defied orders to disperse, as protests spread through the center of the city against China’s plans to control the territory’s elections.
Police held up warning signs saying “Disperse or We Fire,” before lobbing tear gas cannisters in the Admiralty district near the main government offices, sending protesters fleeing. The demonstrations had spilled outside the government plaza, with protesters blocking traffic on Connaught Road, one of the main thoroughfares that feeds Central, the city’s business district.
Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg
Protesters continued to block roads in different areas of Hong Kong on the fifth day of pro-democracy demonstrations as leaders warned the standoff would escalate in the coming days if their demands aren’t met.
The demonstrations also coincide with Golden Week, a week-long holiday in China when hundreds of thousands of people from the mainland travel to Hong Kong. Some retailers are closing outlets, with Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd., the world’s largest jewelry chain, shutting about 20 shops today, after keeping more than 25 closed yesterday.