OCCUPY CENTRAL
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Occupy Central

OCCUPY CENTRAL - NIGHT FIVE: Full coverage of the night's events

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 October, 2014, 7:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 October, 2014, 2:13pm

Watch: Scuffles break out among protesters as Occupy Central day six begins

Good morning and welcome to our continuing 24-hour Occupy Central coverage. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has vowed not to resign despite an ultimatum from students demanding that he step down. Leung announced minutes before the midnight deadline set by the students that he had appointed his deputy Carrie Lam to lead a team of senior officials to meet with student leaders. 

Outside Leung's office in Admiralty, thousands of gathered protesters have reacted angrily to the chief executive's speech, but student leaders have called for calm and asked for time to negotiate. Earlier police were seen bringing suspected riot gear, including guns for tear gas and rubber bullets, into the building.

Follow live for all the latest through the night. Our Day Six live blog is also up and running. 

7.46am: At Causeway Bay, less than a dozen protesters remain, including social work graduate Ken Hoi Chi-Wai. "It's because there are less and less people, so I was more determined to stay," said Hoi. For 17-year-old Henry Chiu, it's his first time joining the protests. "I'm waking up early so I can be here before I go to school," he said.

His family is not supportive, but the teenager is determined to show his support. "I think the police handled the situation badly, and I think a 1,200-man committee cannot represent the whole population," he said. "I've never joined in these things before - I've never even been to a protest. But I really want to show support [this time]."

7.20am: The UK government says it "remains concerned" about events in Hong Kong. In a statement it said: "We welcome the offer by the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to open talks with student leaders to discuss constitutional development. We hope that all parties will engage constructively in dialogue.

"As the British government has made clear, it is important that Hong Kong citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms, including of assembly and demonstration, are respected, as guaranteed by the Sino-British Joint Declaration. We welcome the statement that the Hong Kong police will exercise maximum tolerance. It is also important that demonstrators continue to express their views peacefully in accordance with the law."

6.57am: "The people of this city deserve to be able to choose their own leader without restrictions," says our editor for special projects, Cliff Buddle, in an opinion piece. "They are generally sensible, pragmatic, well-informed, well-educated and civic-minded. After so many years of patience, it is surely not too much to ask."

6.30am: No breakfast for the police in Tamar, as the trucks that officers said were carrying their food are forced to turn back after an angry stand-off with protesters. "You have denied our officers their basic needs of food and water," said one senior officer over a loudspeaker. But the students are unmoved, saying they cannot trust the police about the contents of the vehicles after an ambulance was used to smuggle weapons in to police on Thursday. 

Some protesters then began passing snacks and cartons of orange juice forward to the officers, who did not accept them.

6.00am: A number of experts on China have weighed in on the short-term prospects for the Hong Kong democracy movement, and the long-term impact the last five days of protest will have, over at China File.

"So what is this movement about? Of course it is about more democracy in Hong Kong, as promised in the Basic Law framework. It does not, at this stage, contain any open challenge to the Party’s authority in Beijing, or over China’s sovereignty in Hong Kong, and this should be acknowledged more clearly by the international media. More deeply, it is not a movement about China: it comes at the end of a decade of civil awakening and intellectual decolonisation in Hong Kong, which has discovered its own identity. With its strong utopian streak feeding the carnival-like atmosphere in the streets, it is changing the way people think about their city."

5.35am: Over at Tamar, hungry police guarding the road leading to the chief executive's office have asked the protesters to make way - so that the breakfast they've ordered can be delivered by car. But the students are refusing to budge, because they say an ambulance they allowed through on Thursday was used to sneak riot gear in to the police. The students have offered to carry the food in themselves...

5.17am: Here's our wrap of yesterday's events as day six of Occupy Hong Kong begins. 

"Embattled Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying last night rejected calls by protesters besieging his office for him to resign, but delegated Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to negotiate with student leaders. Speaking a few minutes before a midnight deadline set by protesters demanding he quit expired, Leung said he would not step down 'because I have to continue to do the work of Hong Kong electoral reform'."

4.48am: We've added a video to the top of the page showing the scenes outside the chief executive's office in Tamar earlier tonight, where protesters argued among themselves over whether they should occupy Lung Wo Road, a crucial link between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. 

4.25am: The past five days have produced some truly extraordinary images, as hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers have taken to the streets to demand a real say in how their city is run. We've put together a gallery featuring 25 of our favourites.  

3.54am: A new editorial from The Guardian has called on countries around the world to speak out on the protests in Hong Kong.

"Never, since the beginning of the upheaval, have international calls for restraint and dialogue on part of the Chinese authorities been so necessary. The demonstrators have been on the streets in tens of thousands asking for respect for what they perceive as their basic democratic rights. They are demanding a free, open election process – a request that echoes calls in other parts of the world where emerging middle classes want more of a say in how countries are governed. What happens in Hong Kong will resonate far and wide.

"To many people elsewhere in the world these may appear to be events in a small and distant place. But what happens in Kong Kong is bound to have great global resonance, given that our future will depend in large part on China’s behaviour, and its emergence and positioning in the international arena.

"No one can discount the possibility of a violent outcome in Hong Kong. This is why more voices must speak out, in Europe and especially in emerging democratic countries such as Brazil, South Africa, to signal to Beijing that there will be a cost if the worst happens and bloodshed breaks out."

3.35am: Some tweets from our reporters outside the chief executive's office in Tamar, where a small group of protesters are trying to block traffic on Lung Wo Road, a crucial link between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. 

3.23am: Police in Singapore have released a statement after reports that six Hongkongers were questioned following an Occupy solidarity event in the city-state on October 1.

“In response to media queries, police confirm that several foreigners are currently assisting with investigations into offences under the Public Order Act. No arrest has been made. The Speakers’ Corner [the site of the event] is a designated site for Singapore citizens to speak freely on issues as long as they do not touch on racial or religious matters. Only Singapore citizens and permanent residents are allowed to participate in demonstrations held at the Speakers’ Corner. Foreigners and organizers of assemblies and processions involving foreigners are required to obtain a police permit before they can use the Speakers’ Corner.

"While foreigners are allowed to work or live here, they have to abide by our laws. They should not import their domestic issues from their countries into Singapore and conduct activities which can disturb public order. Those who break the law will be seriously dealt with.” 

3.00am: At protest camps around the city some protesters are settling in for their fifth straight night sleeping on the streets. In Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Admiralty and Central, smaller crowds than on previous nights are still gathered, reflecting on Leung Chun-ying's decision not to resign as chief executive. There are reduced crowds too camped out in Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon.   

2.45am: The battle of Lung Wo Road continues as hundreds of protesters try to stop dozens of others who are blocking westbound lanes of the crucial link between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Student leaders urged protesters not to block the road, fearing a public backlash over the massive traffic disruption it would cause.

"They are asking us not to block the road because it can affect people. But isn't the aim of the Occupy movement to affect people?" said computer science student Danny Mok. People surrounding the group staging the sit-in on the road are shouting "This is pointless" as tempers flare.

  

2.18am: The Federation of Students, who initiated the class boycott that gave rise to the occupation of Hong Kong, said in a statement that it hoped the government would announce details about the meeting between senior officials and students "as soon as possible", adding that Carrie Lam needed to "shoulder the responsibility and engage in an open dialogue". The group, led by Alex Chow and Lester Shum, did not rule out the possibility of escalating the civil disobedience campaign, saying that would depend on the outcome of the meetings.

A government source earlier suggested that the talks would take place no earlier than Saturday. 

2.12am: About 30 protesters have now blocked the westbound lanes on Lung Wo Road, which links Hong Kong Island to Kowloon on the other side of Victoria Harbour. Student leaders had asked the protesters not to occupy the crucial road, fearing a public backlash, but some students angry at Chief Executive Leung chun-ying's failure to resign want to escalate their protest.

 

1.47am: A government source has indicated that the meeting between senior officials and student leaders will take place no earlier than Saturday. Meanwhile, key student leader Lester Shum addressed the crowd outside the chief executive's office following Leung Chun-ying's speech.

"It is the first time since August 31 [the date of the NPC ruling], that a minister has agreed to talk to students and citizens. This is a critical moment ... But the chief secretary [Carrie Lam] also warned that if we charge the police's cordon, they will try to clear the scene again ... and our friends will be injured," Shum said.

"If we occupy Lung Wo Road, a lot of citizens will also strongly oppose it. But we need the citizens to support and fight with us. We want universal suffrage ... If [during the talks] Carrie Lam just repeats that she has to strictly follow the national legislature's decision ... There are plenty of chances to escalate our actions, such as occupying Lung Wo Road," Shum said.

The crowd responded with applause, but Shum's speech was also interrupted by some protestors who questioned him: "When will you meet her? What are your bargaining points?"

1.23am: In a statement Occupy Central leaders said they welcomed the news of talks between the students and the government.

"Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP) welcomes the news that Chief Secretary Carrie Lam will meet with the students. OCLP hopes the talks can provide a turning point in the current political stalemate. We will fully support the students in the process. OCLP respects the students' position that they will concentrate on discussing political reform at the negotiating table. However, we reiterate our view that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is the one responsible for the stalemate, and that he must step down. In order to achieve real universal suffrage, the National People's Congress Standing Committee must withdraw its decision on Hong Kong's political reform."

The NPC ruled in August that a 1,200-strong committee must select two or three candidates to run in the next chief executive election, set to be Hong Kong's first by universal suffrage. Critics said that process would amount to "fake democracy". 

1.18am: The reaction to the chief executive's speech from protesters gathered in Causeway Bay is slightly more positive than elsewhere. "It's better than nothing," said Erica Lung, 29. "At least we can start discussing." However, Lung echoed the view that Leung is shying away from his responsibilities by appointing his deputy Carrie Lam to conduct negotiations with the students.

Chloe Leung, 30, also criticised the chief executive, but said that "he finally addressed the issue", which means "that [the protesters'] work has been good".

Chan Tsz Fung, a 22-year-old student, has been in Causeway Bay since the beginning of the week. "I was happy at first, but I don't know what will come of [the negotiations]. I hope for the best. I hope that CY shows that he is with the Hong Kong people." Chan said that the meeting should be public, so that everybody could follow the issue closely.

1.00am: Here's some immediate analysis of Leung's announcement from one of our senior editors, Niall Fraser.

"Well, well, well. Talk about going down to the wire. As the world watched the clock tick down to the students' deadline, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his number two Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said they would sit down and talk to the students on political reform.

It's hard to see this as anything other than the ultimate fudge, a time-buying short-term solution to a long-term problem. Realistically though, it was the only way out for both sides at this 11th hour. The drama was heightened by the last minute appearance of the heads of two of Hong Kong's top universities.

The fundamental problems still exist and the pressure on these talks will be immense. A significant body of the public - most of them with an abiding antipathy to the administration - has been galvanised and politicised. Those who care nothing for politics have seen a completely new side to this great city.

What an incredible few days. This is most certainly not over, but now at least, we can catch our breath and reflect."

12.55am: Here's the scene at Tamar, where protesters have managed to stop a small group from occupying Lung Wo Road, which links Hong Kong Island with Kowloon. 

12.40am: A frenzy has erupted outside the chief executive's office in Tamar as a small group of angry protesters try to block Lung Wo Road. Many others are working to prevent them. Earlier tonight, student leaders Lester Shum and Joshua Wong gave emotional speeches, urging the crowd not to occupy Lung Wo Road or to rush police lines. Reacting to the tension caused by police sending riot gear to the chief executive's office, the student activists said these were just CY Leung’s ploys to scare and provoke them.

"The person who wants us to rush [at police barricades] is CY Leung. This is his scheme to unleash the tear gas and rubber bullets,” they said. Protesters had fiercely debated whether to expand their protest front to the adjacent road. "Lung Wo Road is the only transport link between Kowloon and Hong Kong,” Shum said. “It will backfire and all the support garnered in the last week will go to waste.”

"This is a war for public support,” Wong said. “We must show Leung that we have the support of the masses on our side.”

12.34am: More reaction to Leung Chun-ying's announcement that he will not resign, and has asked his deputy Carrie Lam to meet with students along with other senior officials. Diana Chan, 22, is a business management student. "He didn't give us any accurate information on what he is going to do. Even what he's said are not the things that Hong Kong citizens want to hear," Chan said. "What we want is just his resignation, but he couldn't do that so he just passed all responsibility to Carrie [Lam]."

Elvis Ko, a CUHK student, blasted Leung for using "delaying tactics". "He is only shedding the responsibility to Carrie Lam," he said. "I don't think Lam has the power to make an ultimate decision...It's meaningless." Ko said his top concern was whether Leung would resign or not. "We should fight for true democracy first. Without it, even if Leung steps down, there would just be another Leung elected."

12.18am: The press briefing by Leung and Lam was broadcast live to the protesters, and the immediate reaction was far from positive, with most booing while Leung spoke. Olga Chung, 23, who works at the Ocean Park amusement park, said: "They haven't scheduled a meeting, they said they will meet but not when. Who knows, they may set it up for a month or two months from now. It's all rubbish. I think he should be right here [in Tamar] at this moment to talk about political reform and universal suffrage. He is the chief executive, not Carrie Lam. Why is he shifting the responsibility?"

There was a brief moment of chaos after the speech as some protesters tried to block Lung Wo Road, which links to the cross-harbour tunnel. Other protesters tried to restrain them. Student leaders have asked protesters not to disrupt cross-harbour traffic.

In Mong Kok, protesters jeered during the broadcast of the speech. Bruno Chau Chun-nan, an accounting student, said Leung had failed to meet the students' demands. "He's just passed the job to Carrie Lam. And he actually blamed the students when he said police had been handled the protesters with maximum tolerance." Chau said he plans to stay on in Mong Kok through the night.

11.43pm. CY Leung and Carrie Lam are holding a press conference now.

Leung said his chief secretary, Lam, had received a letter from the Hong Kong Federation of Students on the "constitutional development" of Hong Kong. He said that they had "studied the letter in detail" and appointed Lam to meet with the students as soon as possible.

Leung stressed that he would not resign "because I have to continue to do the work of Hong Kong electoral reform". He said, "Any dialogue on political reform has to be based on the Basic Law and framework by the National People's Congress". He said the protests could not continue indefinitely.

Leung said police would exercise the greatest restraint towards students and young people. "I repeat, police will [treat] the students' rally with the greatest tolerance."

He acknowledged that the protesters gathered in front of the chief executive's office in Admiralty had exercised self-restraint and are rational. But he added that worldwide, to occupy or to besiege a chief executive's office block, police headquarters and government headquarters "can cause serious consequences" and "will be dealt with seriously". 

Two members of the constitutional reform taskforce, Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen and Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Secretary Raymond Tam, are set to meet Federation of Students leaders shortly, he said. 

The Federation of Students' secretary general Alex Chow asked the crowds gathered at Tamar for time for negotiations.

11.28pm. This just in: Carrie Lam met with four pan-democratic lawmakers, including Civic Party leader Alan Leong, Labour Party’s Cyd Ho Sau-lan, Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau and Charles Mok, at around 5pm today. The pan-democrats urged Lam to meet the students as soon as possible to defuse the crisis. 

11.20pm. University vice chancellors Peter Matheison (Hong Kong University) and Professor Joseph Sung (Chinese University) are set to address the thousands gathered in Tamar.

They arrive via Harcourt Road, which erupts in cheers and applause, cutting through the tension in the air. 

When they arrive in front of CY Leung's office, Mathieson urged protesters to keep their cool and avoid conflict. "Put safety first. Take care of yourself and avoid conflicts," he said, adding that the students should keep their calm.

10.55pm. Whether or not to "occupy" the road adjacent to the one in front of CY Leung's office remains a bone of contention among protesters there. Students are debating what tactical gains would be achieved if they blockade Lung Wo Road, the only westbound roadway left connecting Wan Chai and the Central and Western districts.

"We must not block the road as we will strip away the public support that we have worked so hard to build up," one said.

Another countered: "This is the whole point of an Occupy movement. We are here waiting for a conclusion, but will it come? If people want to occupy the road, then they can. We have no leader in this movement."

Across the harbour, in Kowloon, guards were seen quietly boarding up the iconic Argyle  Centre Shopping Arcade's Fife Street entrance with slabs of wood. The guards refused to say why they were blocking off the entrance. Many shop owners had been complaining throughout the day about the protests hitting their business amid the National Day holiday, normally one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year.

10.35pm. The mood is on-edge at the protest site around the government headquarters. A big group of protesters tried to block dozens of people - whom they suspected were plain-clothes policemen - from leaving Civic Square (behind CY Leung's office) and going to the Harcourt Road footbridge. Security guards in the area had told the crowd that the people in question were policemen, but this was not confirmed.

As crowds eventually parted to let them through, one of the men shouted back, "See? Give us a way and it works."

Meanwhile, award-winning actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai responded to the latest events near the government complex. 

"I support all Hong Kongers who express their opinion peacefully. I hereby protest against the government for [previously] using excessive violence against the peaceful protesters. I hope the government will be more sincere and launch a dialogue with its people as soon as possible," he told the media.

10.27pm. Government sources have told the Post Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor might hold a press conference at 11.30pm.

Separately, the Hong Kong Federation of Students sent an open letter to Lam, saying they would only meet her in public to let Hongkongers fully understand and take part in a dialogue. The student group did not cite CY Leung's resignation as a prerequisite for the meeting, adding that political reform was the only topic of discussion.

10.17pm. There's a noticeable swell in the number of people on Harcourt Road, which has been a key protest site in the past five days, with some returning after getting rest. Many sat on mats and plastic sheets placed around several tents.

In Central, protesters numbering in the low hundreds, according to an SCMP reporter, are gathered on Connaught Road Central. The biggest draw for the evening is a "Speaker's Corner", offering members of the public the chance to express their views.

In Causeway Bay, a group of about 50 citizens approached pro-democratic lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan, needling him about the fate of the movement. They complained that the protest had no clear direction and voiced their concerns about the movement "lacking any leadership".

10.06pm. Two Legislative Council panel meetings tomorrow were cancelled as the protest outside government headquarters in Tamar continues. The two committees affected were supposed to deliberate the Private Columbaria Bill and Construction Workers Registration (Amendment) Bill, respectively.

9.55pm. Earlier, the Hospital Authority announced that 91 people have been injured in the Occupy protests between Sunday and 5.30pm today. Emergency chief Dr. Liu Shao-haei said the figure - which counts those in public hospital - included 13 injured in the past 24 hours. Seven are in a stable condition at hospital.

9.37pm. One of the volunteers in Causeway Bay said he is the son of a policeman who will be on duty for tonight's protests.

Dixon Lam, 27, a property agent, said he had been volunteering for Occupy since Monday. He said it wasn't an easy decision. "I had some arguments with my father ... I might get kicked out from home," he said.

"I came here because students were bullied ... And because it's our Hong Kong. It's up to us to defend it," he said. "But I understand that [police] are having a hard time and I tell [my father] to stay safe every night."

Lam said that if officers come to Causeway Bay, the protesters would have trouble defending their "base". "People are exhausted, many stayed overnight, and perhaps some are losing interest, because nothing happened in the past few days," Lam said.

9.27pm. Another row breaks out among protesters in Tamar. Some members of the Federation of Students had tried to cut the plastic cords binding metal barricades together to clear escapes, but they were booed by the crowd. Federation of Students representatives had to explain why and it turned out the crowds had misunderstood and thought they were trying to remove the barricades.

Moments later, police make an announcement urging protesters to leave the site and that they will "temporarily not do anything yet". Stage organisers have asked people not to go to the dense area outside CE office anymore "because it is already full of people" and could be risky if police respond.

Meanwhile, the buzz in other camps seems to be: "Will we be prepared if police take action?" Volunteers in Causeway Bay say they are not prepared if things escalate in Admiralty as they do not have enough people to guard supplies or send help.

9.18pm. The clock is ticking ... Occupy Central tweets a reminder that CY Leung has three hours left to meet their demands. It threatens to "perpetuate" the political crisis if the leader does not resign.

9pm. Director of Information Services Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said the government's departments were beefing up data security after Anonymous hackers threatened to attack the Hong Kong government's systems should police use violence on protesters.

Starting today, the government will give daily briefings at 5.30pm on traffic, school closures, emergency services and other matters affected by the Occupy movement, it said.

8.45pm. Meanwhile, numbers in Causeway Bay have dwindled to just 5,000 tonight, according to an estimate by an SCMP reporter in the field. Only a few groups are sitting on Yee Wo Street and Hennessy Road, where public lectures on political topics continue. Sogo shopping mall is one of the few stores still open and a few shoppers are walking around.

News has filtered in about the police gearing up in Tamar, prompting academics at the protest site to urge calm. Chinese University professor Wong Hung said it would be "unacceptable" for police to use rubber bullets and said he did not believe surrounding government offices constituted a violent act.

In Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok, there are also fewer sit-in protesters compared to last night. On Harcourt Road, in Admiralty, there are just a few hundred protesters left - almost as many as the tourists taking photos of them.

8.30pm. Emotions ran high as dozens of protesters clad in black shirts and masks stormed Lung Wo Road near CY Leung's office – a major traffic path connecting Central with Wan Chai. They retreated after their fellow protesters urged them to pull back for fear that the move might lead to police action.

Arguments broke out between those who wanted to expand the protest site beyond the front of CY Leung's office while others said they should stay put and not obstruct more traffic. 

After some expressed annoyance and confusion, Lung Wo Road was left open.

Hundreds of people chanted, “Down with CY, Work no more” as they vowed to surround the office to prevent the embattled chief executive from returning to work tomorrow.

8pm. The Hong Kong Federation of Students warned that police might attempt to "evict" crowds outside the chief executive's office tonight.

As students expect to "enclose" the Central Government Offices tomorrow, they said Tim Wa Avenue near Tamar would be an important spot for the crowds to gather.

Check out the key sites to watch on our interactive map:

They also told protesters to learn how to identify legitimate volunteers who are helping out: the Federation of Students' camp will be in black T-shirts with green lettering; Scholarism groups will wear black T-shirts with orange lettering; while Occupy Central ones will wear a blue armband with the OC logo.

The protesters in Admiralty were seen passing around goggles in case of a police action.

7.54pm. A former top official has dismissed student protesters'  four demands as "unrealistic". Among the key demands are that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying resign today, and for the central government to cancel or amend its decision on the election reform framework.

Former security secretary Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong, now a deputy to the National People's Congress, urged the group to negotiate with the government.

“Those such as requiring Chief Executive should resign by [today], and asking the central government to cancel or change its decision, are unrealistic,” Lee said, adding that they should adjust their demands.

The other two demands by the Hong Kong Federation of Student are allowing the public to nominate candidates for Chief Executive and to re-open Civic Square at the government headquarters in Admiralty. The square is the forecourt outside its east wing entrance and has been a venue for many demonstrations in the past.

The federation is one of the main groups, apart from Occupy Central, which have blockaded roads in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.

“I think [the students] should not aim too high. They must put down some preconceived ideas," they said.

7.49pm. A quick recap of the day's events:

*The government has repeated its call for Occupy Central to stop its protests. Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang said he met with two pro-democracy leaders, but the movement's demand for CY Leung to resign is "impossible" to meet.

*Tensions flared in front of CY Leung's office in Tamar, Admiralty this afternoon after police were seen ferrying what looked like anti-riot gear - including rubber bullets - into the government headquarters. The protesters accused the police of attempting to sneak the equipment in using an ambulance. Police in a press conference said today they would not rule out using tear gas and "appropriate force" if the situation escalates tonight.

*Protesters have vowed to occupy several government buildings if CY Leung does not resign by 11.59pm.

*Showing a united front, the three main protest groups - Occupy Central, Federation of Students and Scholarism - vowed to step up coordination in the future.

 

 

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