The Hong Kong government on Monday deployed police personnel to remove barricades put up by pro-democracy student protesters in what is being seen as a signal from Beijing that it would not allow the agitation to go on much longer.
The ongoing protests in Hong Kong entered its third week on Monday with students from the city’s universities continuing to lead it.
According to state media, police officers made public announcements Monday morning that they were not attempting to remove the protesters from their camping sites but only trying to retrieve equipment belonging to the police force.
The pro-democracy students and activists are demanding that Beijing allows free, fair and direct election in Hong Kong in 2017 to elect the city’s chief executive.
So far, the government has given no indication that it would entertain any of the demands.
The protests continue as the agitators get ready for a long-term struggle.
But the removal of the barricades by the police probably indicates that authorities will not allow large-scale protests – as seen earlier this month – anymore.
Chief executive, CY Leung, has said that the protesters will not be removed from the sites until the government was forced to do so.
“The barricades were placed on lorries on the roadside ready to be taken away. Protesters in the area were not resisting the operation, but were monitoring the police action,” official news agency, Xinhua, said in a report.
“A number of helmeted police were on standby, while officers used loud hailers to tell protesters that they were not clearing the site, but only trying to retrieve equipment that belongs to the force and the government,” it added.
The agency quoted Chief Superintendent Steve Hui as urging protesters to clear Queensway in Admiralty, to allow tram services to run normally again.
He warned occupy leaders and other citizens against using social media to encourage people to expand the protests.
“Hui also criticised protesters in Mong Kok, after another rowdy night in which scuffles broke out between police and people manning barricades,” the report said.
Leung said the police were trying different methods to get protesters to leave the streets, and they don't want to have to resort to force. “But if that day does come, the police will use the minimum force required and would try to reduce the repercussions as far as possible,” Leung was quoted as saying.