Hong Kong Protesters Give Government A Deadline To Respond
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Thousands of protesters in Hong Kong continue to occupy large parts of that city on the fourth day of pro-democracy demonstrations there. The protesters are demanding that Beijing give them a free vote in choosing their next leader. China recently ruled that while people in Hong Kong could vote in elections, the candidates would first need to be approved by a pro-Beijing committee. For the latest on the ground, we go to NPR's Anthony Kuhn, who's in Hong Kong. And Anthony, first describe the crowd there the last few hours.
ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: Well, Audie, early in the morning, a lot of areas had cleared out. There was almost nobody on the streets. Now I'm in front of the main government offices here, and people have been coming from classes and from work. And the crowds are swelling to approach the levels they were at yesterday. Again, no serious police presence. Again, traffic in the middle of the city's shutdown. Clearly this is taking its toll on the city and the city's economy.
CORNISH: We know Hong Kong's current chief executive asked the protesters to leave. But are there any signs of conciliation or compromise from him?
KUHN: He made it clear that he was not stepping down as the protesters have demanded, that the nominating committee that's going to vet candidates in future elections will continue to operate. And while he made it clear that they're not going to send in the army to deal with protesters, he did say that the protesters had promised to maintain public order in the city. And he asked them to keep that promise by suspending their campaign and going home.
CORNISH: Anthony, tomorrow is China's National Day. What kind of crowds are expected?
KUHN: Well, Audie, while the government's position has not really changed, the protesters are moving forward. I spoke to student leaders just recently who told me that their current boycott of classes is going to continue indefinitely until the government addresses their demands. And the larger movement, known as Occupy Central, is setting a deadline of tomorrow, Wednesday, for the government to meet their demands. And if the government does not address them, they're going to go ahead with their protest to the next phase. They have not announced exactly what that - they will be, but clearly the protesters are looking towards the long-term, and they're looking at rolling out new plans for further civil disobedience.
CORNISH: That's NPR's Anthony Kuhn in Hong Kong. Anthony, thank you.
KUHN: You're welcome, Audie.
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