The Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the groups leading the huge pro-democracy protests, accepted the government’s proposal for talks in a letter published early Friday Hong Kong time. The HKFS said it will meet with Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam, but promised to “continue its occupying movement until genuine universal suffrage comes to light,” and took more shots at Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
The HKFS wants to meet with Lam publicly, but Lam has not confirmed she is willing to do so. She and Leung proposed the talks in a press conference late Thursday, about 20 minutes before an opposition-declared midnight deadline for his resignation passed. Leung refused to resign.
The HKFS said it will discuss nothing but political reform, seemingly in anticipation that Hong Kong authorities hope to broker an end to the citywide protests with other concessions. They had harsh words for Leung, who has been the chieg target of opposition criticism in recent weeks.
“Not only has he denied the people a genuine political reform, but also ordered violent crackdown on peaceful protesters with tear gas,” the statement read. “His resignation is only a matter of time. C.Y. Leung, you should better be prudent and look out for yourself.”
The letter said protesters will be “on guard at all times,” in their “occupying actions” and said “whether we will bring our actions to the next level, will very much depend on the outcome of the dialogue.”
Protest leaders vowed to occupy government buildings if Leung didn’t leave office by midnight Thursday, but Leung and Lam’s press conference appeared to kill that momentum. Thousands gathered outside Leung’s office on Thursday night and were met by police in riot gear, but a physical clash did not happen. Small groups splintered following the press conference and started blocking traffic, but other groups of protesters stopped them.
South China Morning Post: Hong Kong protesters battle to stop group blocking traffic on crucial cross-harbor link pic.twitter.com/MeGVXl4jsI
â€” Patrick deHahn (@patrickdehahn) October 2, 2014
Neither side has proposed a date or time for the discussions, but the Hong Kong government is likely to seek talks immediately to prevent any further disruption of everyday life.
The HKFS also proposed that “such reform must reaffirm equal rights for all and bring about a genuine universal suffrage and genuine democracy,” and “on the basis of 'one country, two systems,' the problem must be solved locally and politically.”