A prominent academic, Horace Chin Wan-kan, has cautioned next year's Occupy Central plan lacks the "power to frighten" Beijing in talks over universal suffrage.
Dr Chin, an assistant professor of Chinese language at Lingnan University and a backer of the Hong Kong City-State Autonomy Movement, said the "non-violent" road blockade was the wrong approach to take.
"It lacks the power to frighten … Nor will it increase bargaining power in talks with Beijing," Chin said.
Dr Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate law professor, is the force behind the protest plan, in which he hopes to rally tens of thousands of people to block the roads in Central. Chin pointed to previous road blockades in Central by demonstrators in recent years, saying: "It is ridiculous to attempt to use the same method to threaten the Communist Party or press for negotiation."
Chin said the plan could be dangerous as it was calling for an ineffective tactic to be retried only on a bigger scale.
"Its failure will deal a blow to morale in the fight for democracy. Seeing such a mass movement, with so many participating, fail" might make people feel powerless against the Communist Party. The government could become even tougher with pro-democracy activists, he said, citing Beijing's heightened suppression of dissidents after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
He proposed pan-democrats, instead, make "more reasonable suggestions" for political reform for the 2017 chief executive race. He suggested all lawmakers should be made ex-officio members of the future nominating committee and that an aspirant who gained a certain number nominations, say 20, should be allowed to run.
Tai has met more than a dozen pro-democracy groups and businessmen to lobby support for his plan. Tai says the blockade, planned for July next year, is merely the final step in a campaign to "cultivate a democratic process" for the city.