Since the start of the Occupy protests in late September, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has had a red line: Pesky students and other malcontents dissatisfied with China’s ultimatum regarding democratic elections could sit in the streets of Causeway Bay and Mong Kok, two of the city’s busiest neighborhoods. They could even camp out on a major thoroughfare in the Admiralty district near Leung’s office. But they shouldn’t blockade the government complex itself and stop bureaucrats from reaching their desks.
So no wonder the police today responded forcefully when pro-democracy protesters dared to impede access to the government offices in Tamar (the area near the waterfront named after a former Royal Navy ship). With the Occupy supporters blocking other roads leading to the Central Government Offices, Lung Wo Road is the building’s last lifeline to the rest of the world—and today occupiers tried to close Lung Wo, too, and surround the building. “We must exert pressure on the authorities, and the government headquarters is the symbol of central power,” Alex Chow, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, told reporters last night. “By surrounding the headquarters, we are paralyzing its operations.”