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China Hongkong Demonstrationen Zeltlager
Image: Reuters/B. Yip

Hong Kong protests not over

October 10, 2014

Students have vowed to continue protests in Hong Kong until their demands for more democracy are met. Taiwan's leader has supported the move and has called on China to "make good on its pledge" of autonomy for Hong Kong.

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Student leaders called on protesters to return to the streets of Hong Kong on Friday in a bid to place more pressure on the city's leaders to answer their demand for universal suffrage.

Occupy Central also announced protest action for 7:30 p.m.

As of late afternoon Hong Kong time on Friday, reports indicated that several hundred protesters remained entrenched in the heart of the city's financial district, while more were expected to gather at the government's headquarters.

Negotiations collapse

Pro-democracy rallies dwindled sharply this week after Hong Kong officials told the tens of thousands of protesters to clear the streets and allow daily life to return to normal or face police action.

However, an attempt by the two sides to negotiate collapsed on Thursday night after student leaders urged supporters to step up their efforts to occupy key zones of the city if the government failed to make key concessions.

"The basis for constructive dialogue has been undermined. It's impossible to have a constructive meeting tomorrow," Hong Kong's chief secretary, Carrie Lam, said in response to the protest call.

In August, Beijing's decision to vet candidates for Hong Kong's 2017 chief executive elections prompted public backlash. Opponents to the new law are demanding Beijing grant the former British colony a fully democratic vote.

Protesters are also calling for the resignation of the current chief executive, Leung Chun-ying. Pressure for him to step down increased on Thursday with a news report by Australia's Fairfax Media, which alleged that he had received HK$50 million ($6.5 million, 5.05 million euros) from Australian engineering firm UGL in 2011 as part of a business deal signed a week after he had announced his candidacy.

The Hong Kong opposition has asked the Independent Commission Against Corruption to investigate whether he broke the law by not declaring the payments.

Taiwan calls on China to embrace democracy

The events in Hong Kong have drawn the attention of Taiwan, which fears being drawn into a similar power-sharing deal with Beijing known as "one country, two systems." The island nation's president, Ma Ying-jeou, expressed support for the pro-democracy movement on Friday during a speech marking Taiwan's National Day celebrations.

"China would simply be making good on a pledge made 17 years ago, when they said that for 50 years they would allow rule of Hong Kong by the people of Hong Kong, a high degree of autonomy, and election of the chief executive through universal suffrage," Taiwanese President Ma said.

He also pointed to the China's economic growth in appeal to Chinese President Xi Jingping to consider moving toward more democratic freedoms for his own nation.

"Now that the 1.3 billion people on the mainland have become moderately wealthy, they will of course wish to enjoy greater democracy and rule of law. Such a desire has never been a monopoly of the West, but is the right of all humankind," he added.

Public discontent with Beijing has also been on the rise in Taiwan, which has operated as a de facto sovereign state since 1949, when China's nationalist government resettled on the island after losing a civil war to the Communist Party.

kms/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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