2 Oct 2014

Protest leader issues ultimatum

6:57 am on 2 October 2014

Students spearheading mass protests in Hong Kong have vowed to occupy more government buildings unless the territory's Beijing-backed chief executive does not step down.

Protesters are angry about China's vetting of candidates for a 2017 leadership election, and in days of demonstrations have brought much of the financial hub to a standstill.

Crowds in the Admiralty district heard speeches from protest leaders.

Crowds in the Admiralty district heard speeches from protest leaders. Photo: AFP

Student leader Lester Shum said protesters could start occupying government buildings if Leung Chun-ying did not quit by Thursday.

Lester Shum, one of the student leader behind the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests and vice secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students.

Lester Shum, one of the student leader behind the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests. Photo: AFP

Chan Kin-man, of the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement, which is also taking part in the protests, urged the students to be peaceful but also called on Mr Leung to quit.

Fears among demonstrators that police might try to remove them forcibly ahead of the National Day holiday marking the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949 proved unfounded, and the atmosphere was calm but defiant.

Thousands of demonstrators remained camped out at the main protest sites in the central business district, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok, while a fourth site opened on Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, a major shopping district several roads south of Mong Kok.

Former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten accused China of breaching commitments it made to Hong Kong before taking over sovereignty from the UK in 1997.

"They said these matters were within the autonomy of the Hong Kong government and they are now reneging on that."has accused China of reneging on its commitments," he told the BBC.

Lord Patten said he did not think China would authorise the use of force.

Hong Kong is governed under "one country, two systems", which gives it some autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland. The key to the protests is the interpretation of Hong Kong's goal of "universal suffrage" for the 2017 leadership election.

Beijing ruled last month that although it would allow Hong Kong people to elect their next leader, the choice of candidates would be restricted to those approved by a pro-Beijing committee.

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