Activists return to Hong Kong streets
HONG KONG — Thousands of people of all ages flocked back into the streets of Hong Kong on Friday evening as the government's decision to pull out of talks breathed new life into a pro-democracy movement.
Crowds at the protest sites in the city had been dwindling this week, but speakers said the government had miscalculated if it thought the popular desire for democracy was waning.
From a makeshift stage, students and other protest leaders were joined by volunteers, doctors, housewives, lawmakers and academics in expressing their support for the movement and vowing to continue the struggle until the Hong Kong government responds to their demands for democracy.
But the loudest cheers of the night were reserved for Joshua Wong, the slight and bespectacled student leader who celebrates his 18th birthday Monday and who urged supporters to bring their tents, mattresses, mats and sleeping bags, fill up every inch of the protest site in central Hong Kong and prepare for a “long-term occupation.”
“This is our only choice if the government blocks the conversation. We are tired, but we don't want to lose,” he said in Cantonese, before leading the crowd in an English chant of “Democracy now. Democracy in Hong Kong. We will never give up.”
“Hong Kong's determination has created one historic moment after another,” Wong said, demanding that the government apologize for using tear gas at the start of the protests and threatening to expand the protests if authorities do not come to the negotiating table.
Above the stage, banners demanded that Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying step down, called for democracy and justice, warned Taiwan to “beware” of China and quoted the lyrics of a local pop song imploring people to “hold tight to freedom amid the wind and rain.”
In Washington, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China said the United States should boost support for democracy in Hong Kong. Beijing responded by saying this was sending the wrong message to demonstrators and called it a “deliberate attack” on China.
Speaking in Berlin, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the situation in Hong Kong is part of China's internal affairs and warned other countries to respect its sovereignty, news agencies reported.