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Occupy Central

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

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 October, 2014, 8:03am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 October, 2014, 1:28pm

Good afternoon and welcome to day four of our live Occupy Central coverage. Overnight the crowds of protesters that have locked down the streets of Hong Kong were battered by heavy rain as the National Day holiday began.

This morning Scholarism students protested at the National Day flag-raising ceremony, while chief executive CY Leung and officials toasted the occasion.

Stay tuned for all the latest breaking news throughout the day.

 

CLICK HERE FOR CONTINUING LIVE COVERAGE

 

 

6.45pm: Another twist in the protest saga, with the The Wall Street Journal reporting a source as saying that CY Leung will play the waiting game, hanging out for the protests to die a natural death.

The Journal quoted a source familiar with the matter as saying Beijing had ordered CY Leung to halt the protests "in a peaceful way".

The tactic would rely on Hongkongers not taking part in the protests becoming fed up with the inconvenience caused by the demonstrations.

Just how long a waiting game Beijing and Hong Kong's government will be prepared to play is anybody's guess.

6.20pm: An extraordinary escalation in tactics is emerging from some student quarters among Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters. At a news conference this afternoon they gave the city's Chief Executive CY Leung until Thursday to step down, vowing to occupy important government buildings if he failed to do so. Their actions, if carried out, would almost inevitably lead to physical confrontation with security agencies.

Lester Shum, vice secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, said the student leaders would welcome an opportunity to speak with a Chinese central government official, but not Leung, insisting he must resign.

6pm: For those in Hong Kong looking to get away from the crowds this afternoon, they could have done worse than turn up to the National Day celebrations in Victoria Park.

While crowds thronged the streets of nearby Causeway Bay, National Day supporters were few and far at the flag-waving celebrations, giving those that turned up ample space to stretch their legs.

Here are a few pictures from SCMP photographer Jonathan Wong:

5.41pm: A ceremony scheduled for Thursday to "commemorate those who died in the defence of Hong Kong" has been cancelled "owing to the impact of the Occupy Central movement on traffic conditions ... in areas around City Hall", Hong Kong's government said this afternoon. A government spokesman said that as some attendees are elderly people, the decision had been made "considering their safety and the difficulties they have in travelling to and from the venue".

The spokesman said that although the ceremony will not take place, "the Government and the people of Hong Kong will mourn for those who died in the defence of Hong Kong between 1941 and 1945".

5.30pm: Here we go again! The junction of Argyle and Nathan road is now packed with an estimated 2,000 protesters, plus many more spectators and onlookers. Two minute speeches and lectures at the centre of the protest grounds are being given, on subjects ranging from media censorship to how to protect your smartphone from cyberattacks.

The sheer number of people standing around on the pavements of the occupied roads has caused pedestrian flow on the pavements to slow to a trickle.

Supply stations have been overwhelmed with cartons of water and drinks. People are being urged to stop donating drinks.

4.44pm: Another tale of 'only in Hong kong' generosity. This afternoon a male university student was spotted buying a large bag of various brands of sanitary pads, which he then carried to the entrance of a public toilet in Tim Mei Avenue. He passed the bag to a waiting female student colleague who took it inside for free distribution.

Not everything is rosy across Hong Kong, however. In TST an angry old man marched up to students and berated the protests. "The unemployment rate is low, there is a social security system, what else do you guys want?" he asked. "Please also consider interests of the Chinese government, how could it function if others cities on the mainland demanded for universal suffrage."

"Keep calm and do not be provoked," the students shouted back.

4.20pm: A photo taken on Ap Lei Chau Bridge Road in the Southern district of Hong Kong Island shows, on one side, large National Day flags and banners, while across the road spanning the entire length of the bridge, people have tied yellow ribbons in support of the pro-democracy protests.

Pre-handover in 1997, the bridge used to be adorned by Nationalist flags to mark 10/10 (October 10 - Taiwan National Day).

4.06pm: Scuffles break out in Causeway Bay as a group of Falun Gong supporters carrying a sign that says "Bring CY to justice" attempt to march through the protest camp on Yee Wo Street. Protesters said they didn't want the march passing through their zone and a tense stand-off ensued, caught by TV cameras.

The two groups have been negotiating a resolution for some time now. The Falun Gong say they march the route every year, while the democracy protesters, worried about being associated with the movement, say they have occupied the street for days. (Note: After protracted discussions the Falun Gong mrching band turned tail and found another route)

3.45pm: Hong Kong's domestic helpers tell the Post they are avoiding Occupy Central protests after receiving warnings that they could be jailed, fined or possibly even "deported".

Maids on their day off have been staying away from protest zones in Admiralty, Central, Causeway Bay, Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui, after the Philippine consulate issued a warning that it would be unsafe or possibly illegal to join the demonstrations.

The Philippine Consulate General urged nationals to “avoid venues of these protest actions … to ensure your safety and avoid being inadvertently perceived as being part of the protest actions”. “The Public Ordinance of Hong Kong SAR takes disorder in public areas seriously and anyone found guilty of an offence can be fined HK$5,000 and/or imprisoned for 12 months”, it warned.

The ordinance applies to all Hong Kong residents, including foreigners who reside here. Legal experts said the notice was not saying that participating in the protests was in itself illegal, but that the possibility of getting caught and being charged by police would affect a foreigner’s immigration status.

Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose also dismissed reports that Filipinos would be automatically deported if they joined the protests. “Our primary concern is the safety of Filipino workers. [And] we don’t want them to participate in protests because we’re not directly concerned with issues being discussed between Hong Kong and China, he told the Post. Click here for the full story

2.55pm: Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called on all who believe in democracy to support the people of Hong Kong in their protests, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s foundation said on Wednesday.

"I salute the courage of the hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens who have participated in mass demonstrations in the territory in recent days to assert peacefully their right to have a say in the election of their leaders," Tutu said in a statement shared by the South African Press Association. "Their struggle is one that all who believe in the principles of democracy and justice should support."

Meanwhile Amnesty International says more than 20 Chinese activists supporting calls for true universal suffrage in Hong Kong have been detained by mainland police, while at least 60 people were "having tea" with authorities, a common euphemism used to describe interrogations by the internal security police.

2.20pm: A group of academics give a short public speech in Mong Kok as crowds swell to about 600, plus hundreds of spectators.

Wong Hung, an associate professor of social work at Chinese University said he was concerned that media were labelling the events as a "revolution".

"I don't think this should be called a revolution, it's a democratic movement calling for change," he told the Post. "The difference between a revolution and movement is the former wants to displace a government and has associations with violence. We don't want to push away the government. We are demanding change including free and fair elections. Even western models of democracy are not perfect. They don't really understand the situation in Hong Kong."

2.04pm: Beijing’s top man in Hong Kong was dismissive about the Hong Kong protests this morning as the city government held a reception in Wan Chai to mark National Day.

Zhang Xiaoming, director of the central government’s liaison office, responded to a barrage of media questions about the protests simply with: “The sun rises as usual.” For the full story click here

Meanwhile mainland visitors have expressed their admiration at Hongkongers' protests.

Ryan Ruan, 30, said he did not find the movement chaotic, nor had it affected his trip since he arrived on Sunday.

"It's actually more comfortable as there are less people on the streets," said the banker from Beijing, who found about about the protest on Weibo and supported Hongkongers because "they should be able to speak their minds".

Dance teacher Summer Hua, 25, from Shangai, said the traffic might be affected, but the occupy movement had made her two-day trip more special.

"This is something that we can't do on the mainland," she said, explaining that she only heard about the movement in Macau days before her arrival in Hong Kong. 

Despite her support, she was critical of the methods protesters used. "Fighting for democracy is crucial, but you also have to minimise the impact on infrastructure," said Hua, clutching two pieces of yellow ribbon in her hands, adding that she was still able to go shopping.

1.58pm: A bit of drama in Mong Kok when police are called to investigate a suspicious-looking suitcase left near the protest zone. Officers carefully opened the abandoned white suitcase... and discovered clothes and an ID card belongong to a mainland visitor. The case was taken to teh police station to await its owner.

1.45pm: Democracy protesters are picking up support from many foreigners and visitors to Hong Kong. 

Lynn Butler, a schoolteacher, arrived in the city with her husband from South Africa just three months ago. They had planned to come to Hong Kong to "make money for their retirement" back home.

They have been buying water and food for the students in Mongkok to show their support for the movement.

"We just want to tell all of you [students] that many westerners in Hong Kong are proud and amazed. We really want to express our admiration and respect for this movement for democracy. In South Africa and the UK, where we used to live, protests of this scale usually mean broken windows and stores set on fire.

"We were originally here just to make money for retirement but we are now deciding to stay for good. This is really an exciting period for Hong Kong."

1.05pm: Tactical talk from pan democrat Charles Mok, who believes police and the government have ditched their heavy-handed approach in favour of the waiting game.

The democratic reform package is “dead in the water” and Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying must take responsibility for the use of tear gas and resign, Mok told the SCMP.

“The buck stops at the top. Leung blames others to create a situation that is uncontrollable but the one who is uncontrollable is he,” said Mok, adding that there were no negotiations going on between either the protesters or pan democrats and the government.

After seeing tear gas used against demonstrators, no democrat will now vote for Beijing's strict reform package, said Mok, meaning that it will not get the necessary two thirds majority in the 70-member legislature required for the measure to pass.

Mok called on Leung to come out and meet the people but believes the chief executive’s strategy is to wait it out in the hope that protester numbers dissipate in the face of community hostility from people impacted by the blocked roads, closed schools, and drop in business. “Leung wants to pit people against people. He is not backing off,” said Mok.

12.47am: The White House has responded to a petition on its website which attracted around 200,000 signatures, calling upon it to “press the Chinese government to honour its promise of democratic elections to the Hong Kong citizenry".

“We are watching the situation in Hong Kong closely,” the White House said in its statement. “Around the world the United States supports internationally recognised fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. We urge the Hong Kong authorities to exercise restraint, and for protesters to express their views peacefully.”

12.31pm: Crowds are getting bigger in Causeway Bay, as the holiday frees up many more people to take part.

12.25pm: One of the three Occupy movement organisers, Chan Kin-man, offered an emotional apology to citizens living near the Occupy rallies in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok, and urged protesters to stick to three main demonstration sites.

"We apologise to [these residents]," said Chan with a trembling voice. "We know the Occupy movement will bring inconveniences to citizens' lives but we hope people can understand us. We know there will be short-term disrruption but we are fighting for long-term harmony in the society."

Chan said "humanatarian corridors" had been set up at each rally location with portable barriers that could be removed in seconds. He said ambulances could drive through such corridors in shorter time than when there was a traffic jam.

He called on protesters who last night split away from main groups to occupy other areas of Hong Kong, to focus on the three main areas, of Causeway Bay, Admiralty and Mong Kok, to ensure a strength in numbers that could not be penetrated by police.

12.17am: It looks like the shine has been taken off the start of Golden Week if the luxury shops of Central are anything to go by. Tiffany and Van Cleef & Arpels were among a handful of stores to remain closed in what is traditionally one of the busiest shopping times of the year.

Wang Ping, a 44-year-old housewife from the mainland here with her husband, says her trip hasn't been affected, though Central wasn't as packed as she remembered from previous trips.

"The protests haven't affected my view of Hong Kong, but I do notice that they have more freedom to fight for democracy here," Wang said. "I certainly hope we can achieve democracy on the mainland as well."

Most of the shops on Hennessey Road in Causeway Bay opened, but branches of Chow Tai Fook, Chow Sang Sang and TSL remained locked up.

12.05pm: A mainlander who would only give his name as Gary from Hubei engaged in debate with students earlier this morning, arguing that China was like a mother, with Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau her children.

The 40-year-old said the children could express their unhappiness to their mother, but should do so in a way that does not interrupt people's lives.

11.52am: Protesters - watch what you say via your iPhone!

Reuters is reporting that cybersecurity researchers have uncovered a computer virus that spies on Apple's iOS operating system for the iPhone and iPad - and they believe it is being used to target pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

The malicious software, known as Xsser, is capable of stealing text messages, photos, call logs, passwords and other data from Apple mobile devices, researchers with Lacoon Mobile Security said.

They uncovered the spyware while investigating similar malware for Google's Android operating system last week that also targeted Hong Kong protesters. Anonymous attackers spread the Android spyware via WhatsApp, sending malicious links to download the program, according to Lacoon.

It is unclear how iOS devices get infected with Xsser, which is not disguised as an app.

Lacoon Chief Executive Michael Shaulov told Reuters that Xsser is the most sophisticated malware used to date in any known cyberattack on iOS users.

"This is one the most interesting developments we have seen," he said. "It’s the first real indication that really sophisticated guys are shifting from infecting PCs or laptops to going after iOS devices."

The code used to control that server is written in Chinese. The high quality of the campaign and the fact it is being used to target protesters suggests that it is coming from a sophisticated attacker in China, Shaulov said.

11.30am: "We must work... to make the Chinese dream come true".

This from CY Leung's speech following this morning's flag-raising ceremony, where he steered clear of mentioning the protests explicitly:

“Hong Kong and the mainland are closely linked in their development. We must work hand in hand to make the Chinese dream come true.

“It is understandable that different people may have different ideas about a desirable reform package, but it is definitely better to have universal  suffrage than not.

“We hope that all sectors of the community will work with the government in a peaceful, lawful, rationally and pragmatic manner to... make a big step  forward in our constitutional development”.

Leung last night described the sit-in as "out of control" and urged Hongkongers to "stop this campaign immediately". Out of the government's control may be more accurate...

11.18am: Citizens in cities across China have faced reprisals for supporting the protests for universal suffrage in Hong Kong, the watchdog Chinese Human Rights Defenders said in a statement today.

Police in China have harassed and warned activists in many cities, concerned that they may try to travel to Hong Kong or take to streets to protest, the group said.

At least 13 people have been detained and five more have been harassed for expressing their support with Hong Kong’s civil disobedience movement, it added.

11.01am: This timelapse video was created by the SCMP multimedia team from publicly available images taken from traffic cameras above the Yee Wo and Hennessy Road intersection in Causeway Bay.

The video condenses around 60 hours of footage, starting Sunday evening, showing the ebb and flow of people from the Causeway Bay protest site, which has become one of the key gathering areas for demonstrators in the city.

10.40am: Students from universities across the US are preparing to take part in rallies Wednesday to demonstrate solidarity with Hong Kong protesters, writes Jessie Lau. Under a global social media campaign called United for Democracy: Global Solidarity with Hong Kong, rallies are reportedly to take place on 12 college campuses including Harvard University, Yale University and the University of Michigan.

Harvard University students have launched a “Wear Yellow for Hong Kong" campaign, calling on students to wear yellow or carry an umbrella on Wednesday and promote the event through social media. According to the group’s Facebook Page, over 30 US colleges are reportedly participating.

Henry Kwok, 19, a Hong Kong resident studying at the University of California at Berkeley, is participating in the campaign to wear yellow and raising awareness on the UC campus. "I feel painful about what the Hong Kong government has done on the Hong Kong people with its overpowering police force,” Kwok said. “I want to do something to tell the world that Hong Kong still has its own autonomy and freedom…and at the same time support the Hong Kong students who are currently on the front lines.”

For the full story click here

10.15am: A couple of cartoons here, from artist Arend van Dam, illustrating the relationship between Hong Kong and China:

10.06am: Students and protesters are snoozing on the streets across the city, glad, no doubt, to have a day's holiday. It's unclear at present whether tonight will see an even bigger turnout than the last three.

This morning once again, teams of protesters were driven into action, cleaning up the streets.

 

9.50am: A group of City University's creative media students has erected a new landmark at the Tim Mei Avenue roundabout.

The art installation, which they've called 'the tree of democracy', is constructed of umbrellas and barricades.

"In [Occupy Central], barricades symbolise the police power while the umbrellas become the protesters' self-protective weapon," Charlotte Li Yuen-ting, one of the students, said. "We think police and the people should be united, not divided, in the democracy fight. After all, we are all Hongkongers and should help each other out.""

8.37am: A quick recap of the night's events:

* Thunderstorms and an amber storm warning failed to dampen students' spirits - the umbrellas that had been used to fend off tear gas attacks two days ago were put to their more traditional use.

* Protests spread to other areas of Hong Kong including Tsim Sha Tsui.

* A Hong Kong police inspector shot himself dead inside North Point police station. For the full story click here

* Hong Kong celebrity Kay Tse was spotted among the protesters in Admiralty, while singer Anthony Wong performed on the street for the thousands of protesters gathered in Causeway Bay

* UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged that democratic principles be respected in Hong Kong

8.07am: Well, that wasn't much of a celebration - the flag-raising ceremony is over in a matter of minutes.

Joshua Wong and other Scholarism members turned their backs to the flag, raising their hands to form crosses and displaying yellow ribbons, as the national flag and Bauhinia flag were raised.

Some protesters who managed to get past security yelled in Mandarin 'Step down 689' as chief executive Leung Chun-ying entered the venue, relating to the number of votes he received from the chief executive nominating committee in 2012.

At the back of the Bauhinia Square, some protesters gave Beijing a present - a display of their middle fingers - when the national flag was raised, although they quickly dispersed.

Among the crowd was a group of CY supporters who counter-chanted, "Support CY Leung".

Outside the square protesters including pan-democrat Long Hair Leung Kwok-hung raised a funeral torse - a kind of wreath made with twisted ribbons - outside Bauhinia Square, to commemorate the victims of Tiananmen Square and to call for the release of political prisoners in China.

8am: Joshua Wong and other members of student movement made it past security check to attend the National Day flag-raising ceremony in Golden Bauhinia Square. Surrounded by journalists, Wong pumped his fists in the air in celebration.

Some 20 protesters who wanted to force their way into the ceremony have been arguing with other demonstrators who insist the protest should remain peaceful.

The Scholarism members inside have vowed to remain peacuful and quiet and plan to turn their backs on China's national flag.