HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong students mobbed the city’s leader Tuesday in angry scenes as they took their anti-Beijing strike to government headquarters, where hundreds protested against China’s refusal to grant full democracy.
Organisers said 13,000 university students massed at a northern campus on Monday to launch a week-long boycott of classes, a strong showing that breathed new life into the democracy campaign which had been stunned by Beijing’s hardline stance.
Activists say the student protest marks the start of a campaign of civil disobedience against China’s plan to vet nominees for the leadership of the former British colony, dashing hopes for full universal suffrage at 2017 polls.
About a dozen students rushed towards Hong Kong’s leader, chief executive Leung Chun-ying, on Tuesday when he emerged from the building after holding a press conference.
Leung was hustled away while security officials forced the students back, escorting them from the grounds as dozens of media joined the melee.
“This is a warning. Your actions have already severely disrupted order here,” police said over loudspeakers, while in response protesters chanted, “Hong Kong belongs to us!”
Leung said at the press conference that authorities had “paid close attention to the demands for the election in 2017 by the university students” but that Beijing’s proposals were an improvement on the current state of democracy.
“You can see that he has no intention of having a dialogue with the students,” said Alex Chow, chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Students and one of the activists who challenged Leung.
Chow threatened an escalation of the protest action if Leung refuses to speak with students within 48 hours.