HONG KONG -- Government workers began returning to work in Hong Kong Monday, and protesters awoke peacefully at all three demonstration sites following a week of high tension and despite a deadline set by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. The camps were quiet most of the night -- even at the Mong Kok protest site, which had seen the most tension in recent days.
By the early hours of Monday, some protesters who camped out in front of the government building complex surmised the government would not move to clear out the blockades.
“After I observed that there were not so many supporters than the previous nights, I started to think the government may not use that [time] to make more conflicts, especially when they’re trying to have a dialogue with the students,” said Cheung-Fung Fan, 25. The government had issued no further warnings as of Monday morning.
Crowds were noticeably thinner at all three locations Sunday evening, in part because of crackdown warnings, work obligations in the morning and growing weariness over the occupation. Meanwhile, the government and the Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the main activist groups involved in the protests, were hammering out terms for negotiations although the students maintained the blockade will continue even if talks move forward.
But disparate strategies between protesters in the largely leaderless movement became apparent Sunday night. Late into the night, some people decided to clear out of Mong Kok to join forces at the main Admiralty protest site while others insisted on keeping Mong Kok occupied. During Monday’s early hours demonstrators hung a sign reading, “If Mong Kok falls, Admiralty will not endure.”
Anti-protest sentiments were proliferating around the city. At the Admiralty promenade early Monday, one woman shouted angrily about the nuisance the blockages had caused the city.
“You are grown-ups, not children. Stop blocking the road,” she said.
Meanwhile, schools in the area around the blockaded road at Admiralty reopened Monday, and buses made special arrangements to navigate around the protest site.