Hong Kong awash with color as umbrella takes to streets
Around 500 protesters remain Saturday, after ten of thousands returned to Hong Kong's streets Friday in response to student leaders' calls following a gov't decision to postpone talks.

Parts of Hong Kong were awash with color Saturday, streets previously occupied by tens of thousands of protesters transformed into bright art installations signifying their struggle.

Whereas in previous days occupied roads had been full of demonstrators, the umbrella -- the adopted symbol of the protest -- took over Saturday, some in yellow strung on a line with string, others -- pinks, blues, reds and black -- clustered together across the length of the heavily built-up area of Causeway Bay.

At the center of the main protest site of Admiralty the movement's mascot stood tall: a roughly 12-foot-high figure made from wooden blocks by a local artist who only wants to be known as 'Milk.'

The figure holds a bright yellow umbrella in his outstretched right hand. The students call him "Umbrella Man."

Since pepper spray was used to clear sites earlier on in the protest -- now in its third week -- the movement has been dubbed the "umbrella revolution" after protesters used umbrellas to shield themselves. Yellow is the movement’s color of choice.

Around 500 protesters remained Saturday, many taking shelter from the sun in tents or shielding themselves under umbrellas as police looked on. Earlier in the day, some had taken part in the first-ever "Umbrella Marathon," weaving their way around the territory with yellow ribbons pinned to their shirts.

Meanwhile, tourists strolled around the protest sites, observing those who remained.

One -- Ling Yuchen, from Guangdong in southern China -- told the South China Morning Post that it was his first visit to Hong Kong.

"On the mainland, all media reports are against Occupy Central. I support democracy in Hong Kong and I wanted to see what the protest was like," he told the daily.

The Post reported that he then refused to be photographed for fear of losing his job.

After days of dwindling numbers, tens of thousands of protesters returned to Hong Kong's streets late Friday in response to student leaders' calls following the government's decision to postpone talks.

Around 30,000 gathered outside the government's main office in the latest mass call for the former colony's chief executive to be elected free of Beijing's oversight.

Ordinary Hong Kongers listened to speeches and applauded as they sat in orderly rows spread out over a one-kilometer section of Connaught Road. Many had yellow ribbons pinned to their tops and around half wore black -- the city's traditional color of protest.

The crowds Friday were the largest since protest leaders agreed to meet with the government to discuss their demands. During the week, only a few hundred protesters -- mostly students -- stayed around Hong Kong's Admiralty -- the main demonstration site -- and in Mong Kok district, north of the harbor.

Talks had been due to go ahead Friday but the territory's Chief Secretary Carrie Lam shelved the discussions a day earlier, leading to the student leaders calling for a mass rally Friday evening.

Lam's announcement came hours after lawmakers in support of the protests said they would block the passage of bills if the government did not yield in the talks.

The threat was the first time the complaint of China's meddling in local politics moved from the street and into the legislature.

In August, Chinese leaders ruled that while Hong Kongers could choose their next chief executive in the 2017 elections, the candidates would have to be approved by Beijing first.

Hong Kong -- an international financial center -- was a British colony from 1842 to 1997. The non-violent movement is seen as the biggest challenge to Chinese rule in the territory since Beijing resumed sovereignty.

Some observers are concerned that if the protests persist and Hong Kong police again fail to disperse the demonstrators, the Chinese military, known as the People’s Liberation Army, could intervene.

That scenario has revived memories of the killing of student protesters in Tiananmen Square, in the heart of Beijing, in June 1989.

The 1989 movement, initiated by students to push for a democratic China, ended when the military shot dead hundreds of people, perhaps more than 1,000.

Last Modified: 2014-10-12 09:32:54
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