A woman holds a placard at a large pro-democracy protest in HK.
A woman holds a placard at a large pro-democracy protest in HK.

Hong Kong : Student leaders of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong warned on Wednesday that if the territory’s leader doesn’t resign by Thursday  they will step up their actions, including occupying several important government buildings, reports AP. By raising the stakes in the standoff, the student leaders are risking another round of confrontation with the police who are unlikely to allow government buildings to be stormed.

 It also puts pressure on the Chinese government, which has so far remained silent and preferred to let Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying deal with the crisis.

The student leaders, who have played a key role in organizing the protests to press for greater electoral reforms, would welcome an opportunity to speak to a Chinese central government official, Lester Shum, vice secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, said at a news conference.

“However, we ask them to come to the square and speak to the masses,” Shum said. “This is a movement of Hong Kongers and not led by any specific group.” Shum demanded that Leung resign by the end of tomorrow, and that the student leaders had no interest in talking to him. “Because the government ordered police to fire 87 rounds of tear gas at protests, there is no room for dialogue. Leung Chun-ying must step down. If he doesn’t resign by tomorrow we will step up our actions, such as by occupying several important government buildings,” he said. But added that demonstrators won’t occupy “essential” government offices, such as hospitals and social welfare offices.

The protesters oppose Beijing’s decision in August that candidates for the territory’s top post in 2017 elections must be approved by a committee of mostly pro-Beijing local elites similar to the one that picked Leung for the job. The protesters don’t want any such restrictions and see China as reneging on a promise that the chief executive will be chosen through “universal suffrage.” The demonstrations pose the stiffest challenge to Beijing’s authority since China took control of the former British colony in 1997.

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