Hong Kong protesters hold firm on Wednesday deadline for China

Posted at 4:30 PM, Sep 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-30 16:30:08-04

Hong Kong (CNN) — It’s Wednesday in Hong Kong, and pro-democracy protests there are expected to grow because many people are off work for China’s National Day.

The day also brings a deadline that demonstrators have set for the Chinese government to meet their demands to let Hong Kong residents elect their own leader. It looks unlikely China will bend, so it’s unclear what will happen next.

For a week, Hong Kong residents have said that they want more freedom and won’t back down until they get it. They were supposed to be able to freely elect their next chief executive in 2017. That was considered momentous in Hong Kong because its current chief executive isn’t elected by the people but by a 1,200-strong committee stacked with Beijing loyalists.

Last month, China announced that it would allow only Beijing-vetted candidates to participate in the 2017 election, sparking widespread anger.

“Both sides in this dispute appear to be digging in their heels and unwilling to find a compromise,” said CNN’s Ivan Watson, who stood amidst the tens of thousands on the street late Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

Hong Kong and Chinese officials have called the protests illegal.

Dawn is still hours away — Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of New York — but protesters were well settled on the main road leading into the city’s central business district Tuesday. Some put on masks, protective goggles and plastic raincoats, bracing for a potential rematch with police, who fired tear gas at them two days ago.

Earlier Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung urged protesters to clear the roads, saying they might pose a risk to public safety.

“The main roads are used by fire trucks and ambulances. They now have to take a detour, so we urge the society to think about this,” Leung said. “I now urge them to call a stop to this.”

Even a brief but intense rain didn’t deter anyone. Many simply held up umbrellas that have become a symbol of the movement, shields used to protect them from the tear gas police have fired at them. Students have sent CNN iReports about their experiences.

“I normally like to post to Instagram, but China has blocked Instagram, and they don’t want the protests out there,” said Suraj Katra, who shared a photo of dozens of young people sitting on the street.

Another iReport captured a collective of umbrellas.

“I’m really, really angry with police for using violence,” said Grace Cheng, a 21-year-old recent college graduate who has been dunking hand towels in buckets of cold water and giving them to protesters to keep them cool Tuesday as temperatures soared.

She said she was worried the police would use heavier force. “We can’t really stop them,” she said.

Calls for Leung’s resignation grew louder as night wore on Tuesday.

“All the candidates will be pre-selected by Beijing. … It’s more or less like North Korea,” protest organizer Chan Kin-man said.

“But we are an international city. We have a younger generation who have been taught about civil rights, political rights. And we want our words to be heard.”

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