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Occupy Central

OCCUPY CENTRAL - DAY 13: Full coverage of the day's events

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 October, 2014, 7:53am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 October, 2014, 5:50pm

The Federation of Students warned the government on Friday that they would “escalate” their actions - including blocking government headquarters again - if officials refused to come to the negotiating table with acceptable terms.

The Hong Kong government on Thursday cancelled talks with student leaders set for Friday, where they were supposed to discuss election reform issues as a step towards easing the current political stalemate. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, appointed the government's representative, said the talks would not be held because the government felt they would not lead to a constructive outcome.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's ICAC and police in Australia said they would launch separate investigations into a HK$50 million deal between Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and an Australian firm.

 

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Time lapse: Watch how thousands filled the streets as students vowed to escalate protests - Occupy Hong Kong Day 13

2.24am: And as the protesters try to get some sleep, we'll pause our live coverage of the Occupy movement. Thanks for continuing to follow events with us, and tune in again later this morning at 8am for all the latest.

1.50am: As the pro-democracy Occupy protests begin their 14th straight day on the streets of Hong Kong, about a thousand people are settling in for the night in Admiralty, with more than 100 tents now dotted along the blockaded highway. In Mong Kok, some 500 people remain gathered on Nathan Road and Argyle Street, with about 100 police officers keeping them company. A much smaller protest camp also remains in Causeway Bay outside the Sogo department store on Hennessey Road. 

1.35am: In Admiralty, some protesters are feeling chilly, with the temperature about 27 degrees Celsius. Brrrrr. Or maybe it's just the effects of getting the cold shoulder from the government...

1.05am: Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday that he is confident "social stability" can be preserved in Hong Kong and stressed that Beijing won't change its "one country, two systems" approach to running the territory.

Li, speaking in Berlin after meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel, did not mention the continuing pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong directly. However, he said preserving Hong Kong's "long-term prosperity and stability" is not just in the interest of China but also of Hong Kong residents.

"I am convinced that Hongkongers, with their wisdom, are in a position — and that the [Hong Kong] government has the authority — to preserve the prosperity of the city and also social stability," Li said, adding that the local government "will also protect the inhabitants of the city from injury or material damage". 

German leader Merkel has called for freedom of speech to be protected in Hong Kong, and pressed that point on Friday. Li said that "all foreign investors' legitimate interests in Hong Kong" will be protected but stressed that Hong Kong is a domestic matter for China.

12.35am: A number of pro-establishment lawmakers have left Government House in Central after meeting Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor for two hours. Tam Yiu-chung of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong told the media that the lawmakers urged Leung to come up with a solution to the current deadlock.

Asked if any deadline for clearing the protest areas had been floated, Tam said: “As soon as possible. But it is not a simple thing and it is not a ripe time now. Even if they do [try to clear the sites], they may not succeed.” Tam said Leung mostly listened during the session and agreed with their suggestions.

“We said you can’t rush and you have to try your best to persuade the students to make way for traffic… and that [the protests] will affect their studies."

The controversy about the HK$50 million payment from an Australian company to Leung was not discussed, and Leung did not say whether he would resign over the matter, Tam said.

12.14am: Lots of tents have popped up in Admiralty, after student leaders encouraged protesters to dig in for the long haul. On Thursday the government cancelled proposed talks with the student leaders, saying the occupation of main roads must end. 

11.55pm: Some images from tonight's rally in Admiralty, which drew tens of thousands of people a day after Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor noted that numbers at the protest sites appeared to thinning. 

11.28pm: The government announces that CY Leung, Carrie Lam and other top government officials will leave Hong Kong on Sunday to attend the Pan-Pearl River Delta Development Forum in Guangzhou for three days.

11.19pm Mong Kok: About 200 people are at the sit-in protest in Mong Kok, with about a dozen camping out in tents for the night. Some 600 onlookers are present, with some taking part in a public forum. The atmosphere is peaceful, with about 100 police officers present. Sit-in participant Winter Wan, 29, says he showed up tonight partly because of the remarks made by Carrie Lam on Thursday. "As she said that the numbers of protesters in various sites had shrunk, it seemed like she was just encouraging more people to come out," Wan says. "I just want to boost the numbers and force her to meet the students."

11.08pm Admiralty: After the speeches by student leaders, the rally ends and some supporters begin to leave.

10.57pm Admiralty: The atmosphere at the rally reaches a climax when Joshua Wong takes to the stage to speak. Wong, apparently reading his speech from his phone, asks the government to apologise for firing tear gas at unarmed citizens. Wong says the protesters would refuse to retreat [from Admiralty] if the government failed to offer an apology. He calls for a long-term occupation of Harcourt Road, asking supporters to bring tents to stay overnight. "Democracy in Hong Kong. We will not give up!", is the last slogan student and Occupy leaders chant together before leaving the stage.

10.49pm Admiralty: Lester Shum says the huge turnout tonight after two long weeks of protests was a direct response to Carrie Lam's comments about dwindling protest numbers. Shum says tonight's rally is a message to her that people would carry on with the protests. When Shum says that he understands that the process has been tiring and he also feels exhausted, the crowd breaks into applause and chants "Add oil!". Shum leads the crowds in chanting a slogan in English: "Democracy Now! Democracy in Hong Kong! We will not give up".

10.44pm Admiralty: Alex Chow Yong-kang tells the audience that Beijing's anti-corruption campaign should not be limited to the mainland. He calls on the central government to probe CY Leung's secret HK$50m deal with an Australian firm. Chow says he has not returned home since he was arrested for storming Civic Square almost two weeks ago. He says the campaign cannot be suspended now. "If we give up now, we will end in failure and look back at this with regret." He says students have been demanding dialogue since the first day they staged class boycotts, but the government had broken off talks unilaterally. He urges officials who have a conscience to resign and join the civil disobedience movement.

10.40pm Admiralty: Speeches are interupted by emergency workers and organisers asking the crowd to make space for an ambulance and a medical tent.

10.37pm Admiralty: Piano teacher Kit Lau says she came today to show her dissatisfaction with Carrie Lam's abrupt cancellation of the meeting with students. "Although students said they would step up their actions, nothing has changed much," the 22-year-old says. Judging from the last-minute U-turn, she suspects that Lam was acting on a senior official's order. She says given the excessive force used by police, even the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying might not be enough to disperse the crowd.

Gray Chow, a teacher, says the transition from heavy-handed tactics to dialogue, to the cancellation of the dialogue, hinted at a split in views among different factions within the government. "The original dialogue at least helped ease tensions slightly, but now the distance between protesters and the government is even further apart," the 30 year-old Chow continues. "People are even more disappointed with the government now."

10.32pm Admiralty: Lee Cheuk-Yan calls on the supporters to bring tents to camp out at Harcourt Road overnight. "Two weeks ago, nobody could have expected the Occupy campaign to evolve into the situation we have today. Therefore, we need to continue the fight. Let's make history and bring about a miracle."

10.28pm Admiralty: Radical lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung tells the audience: "The big turnout tonight is a slap in the face to CY Leung and Carrie Lam". He continues: "We can't lose this battle [for democracy]. We have nothing to lose anymore." He adds that victory was still "a long way off" and calls on Hongkongers to continue to fight for democracy by peaceful means.

10.20pm Admiralty: Emily Lau says lawmakers will continue their non-cooperation movement in the legislature and force the government to reboot efforts over political reform. She says the government should submit a supplementary document to the National People's Congress to force a change to its framework laid down on August 31.

10.13pm Admiralty: Some pan-democratic lawmakers are now addressing the rally from the stage. Most of them receive a warm welcome from the crowd - with the exception of Democratic Party Chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hung, who's appearance met with some jeers from the audience. Civic Party leader Leong Kah-kit called on pro-democracy supporters to prove Carrie Lam - who said the number of Occupy supporters had been dwindling in recent days - wrong by coming back to "Umbrella Square".

10.10pm Admiralty: An increasing number of civil servants and accountants have been joining the rally, with many planning to camp out overnight.

10.04pm Admiralty: Crowd numbers have surged to more than 10,000 according to recent reports from the rally site in Admiralty. Many protesters have brought tents to camp out for the night and chants and cheers ring out as Benny Tai, Joshua Wong, Lester Shum and Alex Chow Yong-kang take to the stage. Tai is first to make to a speech.

9.47pm Admiralty: A retired engineer in his 70s, surnamed Wong, says he joined the protest tonight to help "protect the students". "The more protesters there are, the less likely the police will violently drive away the crowd again," said Wong, who also took part in the protest on September 28 when the police used tear gas on the crowds. "I was also a bit worried that the police would use violence again. But I have faith in Hong Kong people. I am confident thousands will show up to support the movement." 

9.39pm Causeway Bay: Less than 200 people are still attending the sit-in protest on Yee Wo Road. Protesters are taking to the microphone to express their opinions on the protests and the current political situation in Hong Kong. Volunteers say they have prepared seven beds for anyone who wants to stay with the protest overnight.

9.24pm Admiralty: The gathering is in full swing as crowds fill Harcourt Road near the Central Government Offices in Tamar. More supporters are arriving from Admiralty MTR station, apparently heeding the call from student leaders to join tonight's rally. The crowd now numbers several thousand, according to varying reports from the protest site. The number is significantly higher than in recent nights.

8.55pm Admiralty: Hahn Chu Hon-keung, a member of the Council for Sustainable Development says he and five other enviornmentalists have resigned from their public positions across various councils. Chu says the move is part of the "non-cooperation movement". Chu and his group also denounced the "wrongdoings" of Chief Executive CY Leung.

8.40pm Admiralty:  A group of artists, cinema and arts figures join hands to show their solidarity with the protesters. Among them are singer Denise Ho (centre). The group say they will start a station in Tamar with its members taking turns to stay overnight with protesters. Among those who have joined the movement are singer Adrian Chow and lyricist Wyman Wong.

8.25pm Tamar: The protest outside the chief executive's office remains quiet as thousands of protesters join the mass rally in Admiralty tonight. Less than 20 police officers are on duty outside the main entrance of the building. The Federation of Students warned the government earlier today that they would “escalate” their actions - including blocking government headquarters again - if officials refused to come to the negotiating table with acceptable terms.

8.14pm Admiralty: At the beginning of the assembly, volunteers - including medical team and cleaners - take to the stage to share their experience in the past 13 days of the occupy movement.

7.52pm Admiralty: More than 3,000 protesters gather in Tamar for a rally co-organised by Occupy Central, the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism. The emcee kickstarts the event with a slogan in Chinese: "Critical Moment, Long-term Occupy!"

7.47pm Admiralty: Protesters agree with Hong Kong Tramways to allow eight empty trams to pass through the barricades on Queensway at 3am on Saturday, under an agreement with the tram operator, a student representative says in Admiralty. The arrangement will allow normal tram services in Happy Valley to be resumed on Saturday. The representative says the decision was made to minimise inconvenience to the public.

7.41pm Causeway Bay: A projector is set for protesters to watch live broadcasts of police press conference and follow situation the rally in Admiralty. Roughly 100 people, including some onlookers, are at the Causeway Bay protest site.

7.38pm: Traffic congestion on Hong Kong Island started at around 7am this morning and lasted until after peak hours until about 10am, Lee kwok-chung, senior superintendent of traffic branch headquarters, says at a daily press briefing. Up to 16.3km of road were congested on Hong Kong Island during peak hours this morning, around 4km longer than yesterday. A traffic jam that stretched from Aberdeen to Causeway Bay was 6.3km long today, compared to 4.8km yesterday.

The city has seen 32,000 fewer cars passing three cross-harbour tunnels each day since the Occupy protests began, which represents  about 10 per cent of the daily traffic flow at the tunnels. “We are concerned that traffic jams could get worse if the flow gets back to normal,” said Albert Su, assistant commissioner for transport says.

7.22pm Admiralty: Crowds gather at the protest site on Harcourt Road.

7.07pm Causeway Bay: Several people annoyed by the ongoing occupation of Causeway Bay are having a heated debate with protesters. “If you want to Occupy Central, go to Admiralty. Not here. We can’t go back to work,” one woman shouts at protesters. A business owner in the area approaches the crowd saying: “Although my business is affected by the protests, I support you. I really support you,” the man says before disappearing into the crowd.

6.48pm Admiralty: A steward from the Occupy camp in Tamar was allegedly assaulted by two men in Admiralty MTR station at around 5.30pm. One of the suspects was surrounded by police and apprehended while the other managed to flee the scene. About 20 police officers are currently investigating the incident which took place near Exit A.

6.37pm: More than 140 scholars from the city’s universities and tertiary educational institutes have signed a petition, asking the government to resume an “open and honest” dialogue with students over political reform. Dr Dixon Sing Ming, one of the co-ordinators of the petition, says the petition had received overwhelming support since its drafting this morning.

The petition also condemns the police’s use of excessive force to suppress peaceful demonstrations. “We are also disappointed with the government's resorting to excuses to avoid dialogue with student leaders ... We condemn the government’s lack of good will, and its unwillingness to deal with the crisis through genuine dialogue,” said Dr Choy Po-king of the Chinese University. 

Meanwhile, tram operator Hong Kong Tramways has reached a preliminary agreement with Occupy protesters to temporarily reopen the tramway from Admiralty to its Whitty Street Depot to allow trams to return to Happy Valley. Albert Su, assistant commissioner for transport, tells a press briefing the tram service at Happy Valley will fully resume as soon as an agreement can be reached with protesters.

6.19pm Causeway Bay: Volunteers are setting up tents at the protest site as evening falls. Volunteer Tom Leung says eight tents had been donated by anonymous Occupy supporters. “Tents are really needed for people who stay here overnight, especially as the weather gets cooler.” 

Ng Yuen Mei, another volunteer, sets up a projector to air a film about soaring rents in Kwun Tong industrial buildings.” I have to do something to draw people’s attention to this. But more importantly, I want to raise people’s awareness about social issues.” 

Ng says she will continue protesting until the very end. “Freedom is not free. We have to fight for it, and pay for it. This protest is for Hong Kong and for a better future,” said Ng. “It’s an awakening. It’s sort of a wake-up call to everybody. It’s helped make people care more about social issues.”

5.51pm Legco: Legco's house committee endorses Jeffrey Lam's proposal to launch a probe into the Occupy Central protests, including its organisation and funding. The proposal is endorsed by 35 pro-government lawmakers, while 25 pan-democrats oppose it. However, it is likely that the proposal will be voted down when it seeks the full council's final approval on October 29. According to Legco rules, it requires majority support in both the functional group as well as the geographical group to approve a lawmaker's motion. The pan-democrats hold a majority in the directly-elected geographical constituencies.

5.34pm: Following a statement issued recently by the Hong Kong Bar Association, the head of another legal advisory body has also weighed in on debate over the current political turmoil. Chairman of the Basic Law Institute Alan Hoo SC slammed the government on Friday for lacking the courage to take responsibility for the unfolding situation.

Hoo said the current discontent stemmed from the government’s failure to explain to the public what arrangements could be further discussed within the current legal framework. He said the public should be informed that the current proposal was not mandatory, and that if they disagreed with it, it could be “spent”. 

Allowing it to be defeated in the Legislative Council, he said, is one way, though not the most ideal. The other way would be for the government to inform the National People’s Congress that it would like to withdraw its application for the reform.
“I don’t see the Hong Kong government having the courage to do that,” he added.

“It has now descended into a political grappling match with the students, largely depending on which side has more chips to bargain with,” Hoo said. But this had put Hong Kong’s reputation as an international financial hub on the line as well as causing the local economy to “haemorrhage”, he added.

Hoo proposed that the government should start estimating the economic losses on a daily basis, and set aside funds to help those in need. “If Hongkongers suffer from calamity, be it a natural one or one that’s caused by people, the government should look after those being affected,” he said.

On clearing the streets, he said the government should restore its execution of the law. While heavy-handed tactics are not recommended, Hoo said the government should spell out conditions for amnesty. After that, police should set up checkpoints outside protest sites, and prosecute protesters as they leave. 

Hoo said he was not against the civil disobedience movement, but noted that protesters “needed to bear the legal consequences [of their actions].”

5.11pm Legco: Lawmakers are still debating pro-government lawmaker Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung's proposal to invoke the legislature's special powers to probe the Occupy Central protests, its organisation and financial sources.

Pan-democrats are strongly against the idea, slamming the pro-government camp for trying to abuse their power and create "white terror".

Civic Party leader Alan Leong says: "I know this legislature has been ignoring its rules, but I didn't know that it has been ignoring them to this extent. The Basic Law's Article 73 clearly states the lawmakers' duties, I want to ask Lam: Which duties are you talking about?"

Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan asks whether the pro-government camp want to use the probe as a way to gather information for national security authorities.

Given the pro-government camp's majority, Lam's proposal is likely to be approved by the committee. But the full council has to vote on the matter again in the future to endorse the committee's approval.

4.52pm: Nothing says love like Occupy! A bride and groom, in formal attire, drew a crowd on Connaught Road in Admiralty when they decided to have a wedding march through the protest site. The newlyweds got cheers and well-wishes from protesters as they passed, then stopped for photos before leaving 10 minutes later.

The couple, who have lived in Hong Kong for three years and work in insurance, tied the knot at the French consulate in Admiralty Centre this afternoon. They wanted to take pictures in Wan Chai, but the roads were blocked, so made the last-minute decision to head to Connaught.

Asked if they supported Occupy, the groom Adrien said that was not their intent. Their common friend, Glady Wong, added that the couple wanted to capture an historic moment on their special day.

It's not the first time that weddings have featured in the protests. On day seven of the civil disobedience movement, Yau Chi-hang, 22, got on his knees in the middle of the Mong Kok protest site and proposed to his sweetheart Crystal Chan.

And earlier that week, a couple in their 30s capped off their big day by taking wedding snaps with the Wan Chai protests as their backdrop.

4.40pm: It seems Hong Kong's top leaders won't be in town this weekend. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor heads to Guangzhou tomorrow to attend a forum and trade fair jointly organised by Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will also travel there on Sunday to attend a conference with leaders of Macau and the Pearl River Delta provinces. 

Commerce Secretary Gregory So Kam-leung, development chief Paul Chan Mo-por, and Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Secretary Raymond Tam Chi-yuen will also join the trade fair and forum. 

Lam is expected back on Sunday, while the rest will return on Monday afternoon.

4.30pm: Asked if retreating from some occupied areas was a possibility, Federation of Students secretary Alex Chow said this would only be considered if the administration offers concessions.

"If the government is wiling to offer [a reopening] of Civic Square, we will discuss with other occupiers whether it [a retreat] is possible and if they agree with that," Chow said. Civic Square is a forecourt at government headquarters and a previous site of protests.

Chow said he was optimistic about the civil disobedience movement lasting for a long time, as "further procrastination of dialogues would force more people" to come out to the streets.

4pm: The Legislative Council's House Committee has approved requests by lawmakers - four pan-democrats and one pro-government - to raise urgent questions about the Occupy Central protests during Legco's first council meeting on Wednesday.

The committee is debating another request to launch an investigation on the matter. (See further information below)

During next Wednesday's meeting, Civic Party leader Alan Leong will also table an adjournment motion to debate the government's and the police's handling of the protests.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will attend a regular question-and-answer session at Legco on Thursday. He is expected to be grilled on political reform and protest issues.

3.35pm: Wan Chai District councillors have asked protesters in Causeway Bay to remove the blockades so that trams could run in the area again.

The councillors, including Stephen Ng Kam-chun and Yolanda Ng, spoke to volunteer Danny Yau, who replied that he was not responsible for the area. Occupy protesters have stressed they are leaderless.

But Yau, a recent graduate, later said the barricades could be removed if the government takes their demands more seriously. “We can only do this if they ... take [our requests] seriously,” he said.

Ng told the Post about the councillors' concern: "Mostly the disabled and elderly take the tram. The blockade has brought inconvenience to their lives. We hope they can open them."

During the conversation between councillors and protesters, a woman interrupted, shouting that the protests had inconvenienced the public, especially the elderly.

Minutes later, a commotion broke out as several others began shouting at the demonstrators that the protests are illegal.

3.20pm: The Federation of Students warned the government that they would “escalate” their action if officials refused to come to the negotiating table with acceptable terms.

Federation secretary Alex Chow Yong-kang, appearing in a press conference with other protest leaders, said: “If they do not give us a just and reasonable answer to all the occupiers, there is no reason to persuade people from retreating.

"If the government keeps denying the meeting, we could see that one of the options is to block the government building again.”

Scholarism's Joshua Wong and Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai reiterated calls for the public to gather on Harcourt Road and around the government headquarters in Admiralty.

Chow said adjustments would be made if the government shows genuine, good intentions. "It really depends on the terms and conditions offered by the government for us to adjust the meaning and strategic locations of our occupying movement," Chow said.

3pm: Five government advisers working on environment policy quit today to protest both CY Leung's and the police's response to Occupy.

Environmental campaign committee member Lam Tsz-ching; Food Wise Hong Kong steering committee member Leila Chan; and Lo Sze-ping, a member of the strategy subcommittee of the Council for Sustainable Development tendered their resignations. Hahn Chu Hon-keung and Katty Law Ngar-ning, members of the council's support group on municipal solid-waste charging, also quit.

They said their resignations were part of the “non-cooperation movement”, launched by pan-democrats in the legislature to put pressure on the government on the suffrage issue. 

“We don’t know what effects the resignation may bring about. But we are sure nothing can be achieved by being an onlooker,” Chu said.

At least three other advisers - including Francis Ngai Wah-sing, an associate member of the Central Policy Unit - had resigned a day after tear gas was used to disperse protesters in Admiralty on September 28.

2.50pm: The Legislative Council's House Committee said it would debate requests from various lawmakers to look into the Occupy movement.

Four pan-democrats wanted to raise urgent questions on the issue of the police's handling of the protests, while independent pan-democrat Wong Yuk-man wants to invoke Legco's special power to launch an investigation, especially on the alleged triad attacks on protesters in Mong Kok.

Countering the pan-democrats' moves, pro-government lawmaker Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung requested a probe into the Occupy movement as a whole, including its financial sources, while Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the DAB party, wanted to raise an urgent question on the matter.

2.37pm: An angry man caused a commotion today, blaming protesters for having too much of a ball at the Mong Kok protest site last night. The man said he was incensed by the now-viral photos of people playing ping-pong and enjoying hotpot on the streets.

"What is democracy? Have you ever seen protesters in other countries playing table tennis and having hotpot when they fight for democracy?" he yelled as onlookers stopped to watch.

 He scolded the demonstrators for turning Mong Kok into a personal playground at the expense of citizens' right to use the roads.

Police officers led the man away after protesters urged him to calm down. The ping-pong table has already been removed from the site.

2.20pm: What do protesters think about the called-off dialogue with Carrie Lam? Here is what people are telling SCMP reporters on the street:

Lau Kwong-kit, 60: “I think the government found that no consensus could be made even [in a] dialogue with the students, therefore they simply cancelled the meeting.

"Anyway, the [Occupy] movement leaders cannot control the guards at the barricades, so the government does not want to talk … There is a division among the protesters. See how Cardinal Zen scolded the students?” he said, referring to Zen's statement yesterday that it would be ill-advised to continue the protests when faced with an unrelenting government.

Shen So-han, 20, university student: “It is impossible that the government wants us to cooperate without any conditions. Carrie Lam’s argument of criticising the [pan-democrat lawmakers'] non-cooperative movement as damaging the dialogue's foundation is reversing the most and least important priorities."

Ryo Wong, 28: “I can tell the government simply wanted to procrastinate when they hadn't decided on the location of dialogue even a day before [the scheduled meeting]. I hope the movement can be escalated and more people can be summoned to the protest."

1.53pm: Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan has spoken out about the protests, calling for a "return to reason", and expressed anxiousness at economic losses reportedly caused by the civil disobedience movement.

Everyone involved must "work together, return to reason, face the future, love the country, love our Hong Kong", Chan said on his Weibo account on Thursday.

“I read the news that economic losses in Hong Kong are up to 350 billion,” Chan wrote, without citing the currency or a specific news report. “This makes me really anxious. I believe that all Hong Kong people love Hong Kong.”

Chan also quoted a line in the song Nation: “Can there be a prosperous home without a powerful country?” He recorded the track with singer Liu Yuanyuan in 2009 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Many have awaited Chan's response to the Occupy protest as he once caused a stir for calling Hong Kong a "city of protest" where the right to demonstrate should be limited. A recent report by the British government had put expected losses at HK$6.69 billion if the protests last for a month.

READ MORE: Jackie Chan criticises economic cost of Occupy Central, calls on Hongkongers to ‘love the country’

1.30pm: Protest groups at the forefront of the civil disobedience movement announced they would hold a press conference at 2pm regarding tonight's action.

12.55pm: A man accused of taking upskirt photos of an Occupy volunteer was escorted away by police in Mong Kok.

Protesters alleged the man had been taking photos at the site since this morning - including inappropriate shots of the female volunteer. A police officer said they would examine the photos on the man's camera.

12.32pm: For lunch in Admiralty, volunteers are distributing free food and drinks to protesters, including hot dogs, buns and egg tarts. A drinks stall has also been providing coffee, vanilla Japanese green tea and aloe vera-mandarin-honey drinks.

In Mong Kok, people with varying political views have formed circles to exchange their views on topics such as the impact of Occupy on society, communism and the meaning of democracy. The talks are spirited but peaceful. Few police officers are standing by to monitor the goings-on.

12.15pm: A man dressed in a Gurkha uniform, worn by Nepalese troops, who was directing traffic away from a barricade in Admiralty attracted many curious looks this morning.

The man, Ewin Cheng, a 35-year-old Occupy volunteer, told the Post his costume had no political meaning and that he was just a military uniform enthusiast.

"Even going to work, I would wear trousers or tops with camouflage elements," said Chen, who said he works in advertising and freelance features reporting. A Gurkha brigade had decades ago been stationed in Hong Kong under British rule.

Asked if he was making a fashion statement, Cheng said: “These kinds of clothes are cheap and practical … I do not think 'coolness' is the major factor for me."

Only fire trucks, ambulances and delivery trucks servicing shops nearby are allowed by protesters to pass through the barricade on Queensway. This morning, Cheng and other volunteer guards had to bar a woman driver from passing through. "I do not know an alternative route! Are you going to take me back home?" the woman shouted. The guards later suggested she take Lung Wo Road.

Chen said guarding the barricades was a difficult task - one that involves getting cursed at by angry and upset drivers. “Many people do not understand why we are blocking the road. In fact, we just hope to pressure the government and let them know what the students’ needs are precisely,” he said. 

“While the drivers are asking to reopen the road for them, we also hope the government can open a path for the young people too.”

Cheng, who has also volunteered for the radical democratic People Power party for five years, said he hoped the government could resume a dialogue with the people. And as for his own ride home, Cheng makes his way on a bike - also decked out in camouflage.

11.35am: The daughter of Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying has threatened to take legal action against several media for reports about her questionable Facebook comments, in which she claimed that her designer clothes and accessories were "funded by all you HK taxpayers".

"To NextShark.com (whose founder interestingly asked for an interview for which I disregarded), one of their editors decided to proceed anyway and wrote a villifying article. Unless you take down the defamatory column and issue a public apology I shall take legal action against you for libel. The same goes for The Business Insider, The Daily Mail, The National Post, Coconuts Hong Kong and the Huffington Post UK," Leung Chai-yan, who is studying law in Britain, said.

NextShark.com, an online magazine, had published two articles with the words "spoiled daughter" in the headline.

Leung, 23, apparently responding to critcism on her Facebook profile, said last week: "This is actually a beautiful necklace bought at Lane Crawford (yes - funded by all you HK taxpayers!! So are all my beautiful shoes and dresses and clutches!! Thank you so much!!!!) Actually maybe I shouldn't say 'all you'- since most of you here are probably unemployed hence have all this time obsessed with bombarding me with messages."

After her warning, Leung Chai-yan posted: "So glad I took IT law as one of my law course modules. The topic 'Defamation' is actually the one, ironically and interestingly, I studied for the most and was/ am still most familiar with. ‪#‎LittleFunnyThingsInLife‬"

10.50am: In a sign it's gearing up for the long haul, Scholarism called on protesters today to occupy "every inch of the streets" with tents and blankets, and create one big "Umbrella Square". 

"This is the best way to fight back against police violence and the NPC Standing Committee shutting the door on political reform," the student-led activist group said in a statement.

"Students' and citizens' calls after Carrie Lam cancelled talks with [the Federation of Students] have shown that popular discontent is on the rise. Therefore, we need to give the government a clear response by expanding the scale of the Occupy action," it said.

The statement even gave a helpful list of how much protesters could expect to spend (from HK$300 on tents to HK$30 for blow-up cushions) and what essentials to bring (toothbrushes, towels and slippers).

They also listed free shower facilities at a building on Stanley Street in Central, a squash club in Admiralty and the Harbour Road Sports Centre in Wan Chai for protesters to use.

10.36am: Two executive councillors shed more light on why plans for an election reform dialogue today between the government and protesters broke down.

Starry Lee Wai-king, who is also a lawmaker with the pro-Beijing DAB party, said the pan-democrats' "non-cooperation campaign" in the legislature was a key factor in the cancellation.

The campaign of the pan-democrats, who support the Occupy movement, involves obstructing pro-administration parties' bills and proposals, and attempting to take the majority of seats in two sub-groups of the Legislative Council's powerful finance committee. "It is shocking that pan-democrats and protest organisers threatened to halt government operations," Lee said on a Commercial Radio programme.

Protesters' demand for the National People's Congress - China's legislature - to retract its restrictive framework on universal suffrage  "is beyond the SAR government's power. There will be no way talks can be held if students insist on this", Lee said.

She added that the government had shown "tolerance and restraint" and had really hoped to hold a dialogue with student protesters.

Fellow executive councillor Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung said he hoped pan-democrats would stop doing anything to "fan the flames" in the stand-off. The council is a body of advisers to the chief executive of Hong Kong.

Federation of Students deputy secretary general Lester Shum also told Commercial Radio that prospects for the dialogue looked dire late on Wednesday to yesterday morning. During this period, Shum said he couldn't reach political assistant for constitutional affairs Ronald Chan Ngok-pang to discuss arrangements for the meeting.

9.45am: If student protesters and Chief Secretary Carrie Lam had gone ahead with a dialogue today, what would have been the outcome? Here is SCMP cartoonist Harry Harrison's take:

9.25am: US lawmakers are pushing to revive a practice of holding congressional briefings on human rights in Hong Kong - something that hasn't been done since March 2000, under the Clinton administration.

The US Congress' executive commission on China, composed of 17 members from the Republican and Democrat parties, said in an annual report released today that the briefings should "pay particular attention to the development of democratic institutions in Hong Kong and China’s obligations under international treaties and agreements".

Under a 1992 act, the US Secretary of State is tasked with providing briefings on Hong Kong's democratic development to both the US Senate and House.

The congressional commission called on China to institute universal suffrage in line with the Basic Law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - a treaty that China signed but has not ratified.

READ MORE: US lawmakers want resumption of congressional briefings on Hong Kong

8.45am: Germany's president praised Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters for overcoming "their fear of their oppressors because their longing for freedom was greater", RTHK reported today.

President Joachim Gauck, speaking at an event commemorating an October 9, 1989, freedom and democracy rally in Leipzig, compared the Hong Kong protesters to the peaceful demonstrators who stood up to communist East Germany's authoritarian rule. This helped usher the fall of the Berlin Wall just a month later.

Gauck stressed the importance of defending democracy today. "The young protesters in Hong Kong have understood this very well,'' he said.

Gauck's remarks came just a day before he is set to meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and other officials at a Sino-German summit in Berlin, the report said.

8.30am: There are still around 100 people camped out in Admiralty, according to an SCMP reporter's estimate. This will be the site to watch today, after protest leaders urged more members of the public to mass in the streets tonight in a show of anger at the government's unwillingness to listen to the demonstrators' demands.

Organisers want to concentrate the protests on Harcourt Road, which they have renamed "Umbrella Square".

7.45am: Dozens of bus routes have been suspended as pro-democracy protesters continue to block major roads in Admiralty and Mong Kok. Bus operators said routes through Admiralty, Wan Chai and Central would be delayed.

The MTR, meanwhile, urged commuters to allow for a longer commute as they expect networks to be "busier than usual". For the full SCMP story click here

7.30am: Here's a look at the Post's front page on Friday:

7.15am: Excerpts from the Post's coverage of the Occupy movement in our print edition on Friday:

Protesters call new rally as Hong Kong government cancels talks

"With much regret, [after] the remarks made by student representatives in the past two days, especially this afternoon, I realise that the basis for a constructive dialogue has been seriously undermined," said Lam.

Punish Occupy Central organisers, forgive the rest, says state media

Most of the people taking part in the protests were students who had hopes for a better future for the mainland and Hong Kong, but they were "used, bewitched, and deceived" by the tiny group of organisers, party papers suggested.

Emotional toll on police handling Occupy protests, psychologists say

They also got into arguments with relatives - some of whom were involved in the protests - who blamed them for suppressing the pro-democracy activists.

Protesters practise ‘Love and Peace’ in different ways

Kwan Tai's supporters, meanwhile, offer a grim warning: don't remove the shrine or you will be condemned by the almighty god.

Editorial: Disruption must not spread to Legco

It is in the city's interest for the government and Legco to get back to normal business as soon as possible.

7am: The front-page headlines of major local newspapers on Friday:

- Apple Daily: Carrie Lam calls off meeting. Students: We will hold fast to street protests

- Oriental Daily News: Talks cancelled. Government and Federation of Students trade accusations of insincerity

- Ming Pao: Government calls off dialogue. Federation of Students may surround government offices again

- Sing Tao Daily: Carrie Lam calls off dialogue with Federation of Students

6.45am: Here's a summary of what happened overnight:

* The Liaison Office said its website had been targeted by hackers. 

Beijing's representative office in Hong Kong said hackers had attacked its website at least twice, once on October 8 and and once on October 9, and the incident was reported to the police.

* Hundreds of people converged at the protest sites in Mong Kok and Admiralty, debating the future of the pro-democracy movement and its impact on the territory's economy. Many just enjoyed walking on the usually congested roads.

* No major confrontations between critics and supporters of the Occupy movement occurred. Police did not attempt to clear protest sites.