On the eve of what could be the biggest turnout yet in Hong Kong’s continuing protests, and a crucial test of wills on both sides, a demonstration that began with physical confrontation between authorities and pro-democracy demonstrators shifted Tuesday into a public relations duel aimed at the mass of undecided residents here.
Three days into protests that have brought large parts of the city to a standstill, both sides appeared to be carefully plotting their next move. Some pro-democracy leaders demanded a meeting with Hong Kong’s chief executive and threatened new acts of civil disobedience if the demand is not met.
The actors in Wednesday’s drama will be the protesters and authorities of Hong Kong, but the mainland Chinese leadership will be following events closely. Huge public protest is anathema to Beijing, and what happens in Hong Kong over the next day or two could shape the Chinese response.
The demonstrators have called for a large showing on the first day of a big two-day holiday and say they’re not backing down.
In his first media briefing since police lobbed tear gas Sunday night into largely peaceful crowds, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying gave no indication that he would be willing to meet with organizers but acknowledged the protests were likely to continue for a long time.