Hong Kong police move in against protest zone

  • AP, Hong Kong
  • Updated: Oct 17, 2014 12:56 IST

Dozens of Hong Kong police arrived at a pro-democracy protest zone on Friday to remove barricades in a dawn raid.

Officers in riot helmets and shields descended on the district of Mong Kok to take down some of the tents and canopies there.

Police said they were not trying to forcibly remove the protesters from the site, which is an offshoot protest zone across the Victoria Harbor from the main occupied area in the city's financial district.

Police surrounded about 30 protesters, who did not put up resistance. Officers used loudspeakers to tell protesters to leave the site, and there were no clashes between the two sides.

Tensions between the authorities and the protesters, who have taken over major roads and streets in the city center since September 26 to press for a greater say in choosing Hong Kong's leader, have escalated in the past few days as riot police armed with pepper spray and batons moved to retake some occupied streets.

Hong Kong's leader tried to soothe tensions with student-led democracy protesters on Thursday by reviving an offer of talks. Chief executive Leung Chun-ying said on Thursday the government is ready to meet with student leaders as soon as next week, but urged them to be pragmatic, reiterating that Beijing will not change its mind on election restrictions.

That raised doubts that the proposed meeting can overcome the vast differences between the two sides. Protesters oppose the Chinese central government's ruling that a committee stacked with pro-Beijing elites should screen candidates in the territory's first direct election.

That effectively means that Beijing can vet candidates before they go to a public vote.

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