Updated: October 4, 2014 2:35:56 am
Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters have shelved plans for talks with the government on electoral reforms after mobs of people tried to drive them from the streets they have occupied for a week. The Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the groups leading the protests that swelled to the tens of thousands earlier this week, said they saw no choice but to cancel the talks.
Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, proposed the talks late Thursday, seeking to defuse the standoff, the biggest challenge to Beijing’s authority since China took control of the former British colony in 1997.
The scuffles in Kowloon’s crowded Mong Kok district and other areas were the most chaotic since police used tear gas and pepper spray last weekend to try to disperse the protesters.
Pushing and yelling, hundreds of Hong Kong residents tried to force pro-democracy activists from the streets they were occupying on Friday as tensions rose. The protesters said that if authorities do not act to protect the unarmed, peaceful demonstrators, they would retract an agreement to hold talks with the city government. “Stop the violence or we call off the talks,’’ the groups of students and other activists said in a statement.
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Police were hard-pressed to keep order as the two sides tussled in a tense standoff. The visibly older people trying to force the vastly outnumbered protesters out were yelling, shoving and at times trying to drag the younger protesters away.
The democracy activists linked arms and held hands as they tried to stand their ground against the huge crowd. Police formed cordons and escorted some of the protesters away as hundreds of onlookers chanted, “Go home!’’
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