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Hong Kong Police Repel Protesters' Run On Government Complex

Ending what had been a weeks-long peace, protesters in Hong Kong tried to storm a government complex on Sunday, sparking violent clashes with police.

As The New York Times reports, police responded with batons and tear gas to repel the protesters. For weeks now, the government and protesters had reached an understanding that allowed protesters to remain while letting government workers — including the territory's chief executive — get to work.

The paper adds:

"Sunday night began with rousing speeches and calls for peaceful disobedience from the student leaders in the main protest camp, in the Admiralty neighborhood. But the bravado gave way to chaotic, panicky strife at the nearby government complex, where the police did indeed use pepper spray and batons to drive back protesters.

"The tumult erupted soon after student leaders urged protesters to besiege city government offices in an attempt to force concessions to their demands for democratic elections for the city's leader. The protesters have said that election plans for the city offered by the Chinese government will not give voters a real say. Student protest leaders, who have dithered and debated over the direction of their movement, said their patience had expired.

" 'We feel that the government feels no pressure if this movement simply drags on like this,' said Oscar Lai, a leader of Scholarism, a protest group of high school and university students, who urged protesters to peacefully block the Hong Kong leader's office. 'This escalation shows that Hong Kong people can't wait anymore.' "

The South China Morning Post reports that by morning, Alex Chow, one of the protest leaders, had declared the escalation a "failure."

"The whole plan did not achieve its objective of paralyzing government," he said.

As we've reported:

"The protests, which have gone on for more than two months, are aimed at forcing unpopular Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to step down and for Beijing to fulfill its promise of open elections for his successor.

"While many in the former British colony initially supported the student-led protests, frustration has set in amid no sign of government concessions."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.