The Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the main groups behind the protests engulfing Hong Kong, officially called off a planned meeting with the territory's government Friday following scuffles between protesters and participants loyal to Beijing. The meeting, proposed less than 24 hours ago by Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, sought to resolve the political crisis that has gripped the territory since last Sunday.
The clashes occurred as the central action of the protests shifted from Hong Kong's central business districts to Mong Kok, an area in Kowloon known as a base for the triads, the name of the territory's organized crime groups. Protesters in the neighborhood accused the pro-Beijing group of fomenting violence, which police officers -- who formed a human chain in an attempt to separate the two camps -- were unable to halt.
The Hong Kong Federation of Students, along with fellow organizers Occupy Central for Love and Peace and Scholarism, have demanded the resignation of Leung and the repeal of a new electoral law limiting the eligibility of candidates for the territory's 2017 chief executive elections. Leung, however, has refused to consider resigning, and has sought to persuade protesters to cease demonstrating and resume their ordinary lives in the city. The numbers of protesters fanned out across the city remained high on Friday in spite of heavy downpours.
The government of China, of which Hong Kong is a special administrative region, has stood behind Leung and has warned protesters of grave consequences if they continue with the demonstrations. Although Hong Kong maintains separate legal, economic and political systems from the mainland as part of the territory's Basic Law agreement, China has rejected protester demands for genuine universal suffrage.