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Hong Kong leader offers talks as anger mounts

China on Thursday continued its campaign against the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong through state media outlets and government statements as the city officials said that it hoped to have talks with representatives of protesting students next week.

world Updated: Oct 17, 2014 00:31 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

China on Thursday continued its campaign against the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong through state media outlets and government statements as the city officials said that it hoped to have talks with representatives of protesting students next week.

Hong Kong’s chief executive Leung Chun-ying said at a press briefing that officials have got in touch with the Federation of Students at the protests’ forefront to have formal talks.

The students have responded positively, Leung claimed.

“The talks aim to deal with Hong Kong's constitutional development, the restoration of order in Hong Kong and to push forward the start of the second stage of consultation of constitutional development,” state-run news agency, Xinhua, reported Thursday.

A similar call to talks was put-off by the government last week.

The agitation is now into its third week and the pro-democracy protesters are primarily opposed to Beijing’s plan to constitute an election committee to screen candidates who will run for the chief executive’s post in 2017 in what is supposed to be Hong Kong’s first direct election.

In the report, Zhang Xiaoming, director of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong, was quoted as telling Hong Kong legislators that the protest movement was “a serious social and political incident.”

Zhang said the protests had caused the city to suffer huge economic losses, undermined livelihoods and “hurt the basis of Hong Kong's rule of law, democratic development, social harmony, international image and its relations with the mainland.”

Meanwhile, the British broadcaster, BBC’s website continued to be blocked on Thursday after it telecast a video that showed an unarmed protester being assaulted by police personnel.

Answering a question on the blocking of the website at the regular foreign ministry briefing, spokesperson, Hong Lei said Chinese citizens have “full internet freedom” but are regulated by the government according to law.

Hong repeated that China will not allow foreign countries to interfere in its domestic affairs as Hong Kong was an integral of the country.

The BBC's Global News director Peter Horricks called the move by Chinese authorities as “deliberate censorship”.

A story in the state-run China Daily newspaper claimed Thursday that the protests in Hong Kong were not spontaneous and had, in fact, been planned for more than a year.

“The idea of pushing the central government to accept an electoral reform package by setting up blockades in the heart of Hong Kong first emerged in January 2013,” the newspaper story said.

It quoted Leung as saying the protests were not “initiated by the masses, and spontaneous acts by the protesters indicated that the organisers had no control over the crowds.”