Hong Kong: Raising the stakes in their standoff with the authorities, student leaders of Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests warned they will step up their actions if the territory's top official doesn't resign by tomorrow, possibly occupying several important government buildings.
Storming government buildings would risk inviting another confrontation with police. It also would put pressure on the Chinese government, which so far has said little beyond declaring the protests illegal and backing Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's attempts to end them.
Chinese state media indicated the government may be losing patience with the protests. An editorial solemnly read Wednesday on China's main TV broadcaster CCTV said all Hong Kong residents should support authorities to "deploy police enforcement decisively" and "restore the social order in Hong Kong as soon as possible."
Students are leading the protests for wider electoral reforms, which pose the stiffest challenge to Beijing's authority since China took control of the former British colony in 1997.
Lester Shum, vice secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, said the students would welcome an opportunity to speak to a Chinese central government official.
"However, we ask them to come to the square and speak to the masses," Shum told reporters. "This is a movement of Hong Kongers and not led by any specific group."
Shum demanded that Leung resign by the end of Thursday. He said there was "no room for dialogue" with Leung because he had ordered police to fire tear gas at protesters over the weekend.
"Leung Chun-ying must step down. If he doesn't resign by tomorrow we will step up our actions, such as by occupying several important government buildings," he said, adding that demonstrators would not interfere with "essential" government agencies, such as hospitals and social welfare offices.
Chan Kin-man, another protest leader, said the demonstrations would continue as long as the Hong Kong government fails to give a satisfactory response to their demands.