Hong Kong Braces for National Day Protest
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Thousands of protesters thronged the streets of Hong Kong, ratcheting up pressure on the pro-Beijing government that has called the demonstrations illegal, and vowed to press ahead with their biggest protest so far.
As Hong Kong observed National Day on Wednesday, marking the 65th anniversary of the founding of communist China, protesters continued to occupy the central business district and movement leaders said they would announce plans to escalate civil disobedience.
In a speech on Tuesday, President Xi Jinping did not make any direct reference to the ongoing protests, but pledged that China would protect Hong Kong's interests.
"The central government will unswervingly implement the guidelines of 'one country, two systems' and the Basic Law and steadfastly safeguard the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macau."
Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler, reporting from Hong Kong, said that it was unlikely that the government would give in to protesters' demands for Chief Executive CY Leung to step down, and for the Chinese government to drop plans to handpick candidates for Hong Kong's leadership election in 2017.
Earlier on Tuesday, Alex Chow, the secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, the organiser of the university class boycotts that led to the street protests, said it was considering its options, including widening the protests, pushing for a labour strike and occupying a government building.
Despite widespread fears that police may use force to move crowds before the start of celebrations marking the anniversary of the Communist Party's foundation in 1949, there was little sign of momentum of the protest flagging.
In the early morning hours of Wednesday, hundreds of demonstrators were milling around outside luxury stores and setting up makeshift barricades in anticipation of possible clashes.
As in most parts of Hong Kong, the police presence was small.