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Hong Kong's Angry Protests: What Now?

Police fire tear gas at demonstrators during a protest near central government offices in Hong Kong on Sept. 28. Pro-democracy protesters kick-started their campaign to occupy central Hong Kong after police clashed with students demanding that China withdraw proposals to control the city’s elections
Police fire tear gas at demonstrators during a protest near central government offices in Hong Kong on Sept. 28. Pro-democracy protesters kick-started their campaign to occupy central Hong Kong after police clashed with students demanding that China withdraw proposals to control the city’s electionsPhotograph by Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg

Benny Tai has gotten what he wanted. A leader of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, Occupy Central With Love and Peace, Tai said last month he welcomed the prospect of police using tear gas against protesters. Yesterday, the police obliged, firing first pepper spray and then tear gas at thousands of students and other Hong Kong people demonstrating in front of the government headquarters. The tear gas had little impact: Crowds quickly regrouped and today the demonstrators are not only occupying the major thoroughfare in the financial district, they have expanded their protests to other parts of the city.

What happens next? Today, crowds are smaller as many Hong Kong people have gone back to work, but protests continue in Central and other parts of town. “Only when the government makes a substantial response, then we will advise people to retreat,” Chan Kin-man, an Occupy Central leader, told Bloomberg News. As the standoff continues, here are several points to keep in mind.