The leadership of Hong Kong’s democracy movement agreed to engage in formal dialogue with the government on Monday night, after the ninth day of protests began with protesters visibly flagging from their prolonged occupation of three key areas of the city.
Representatives from the two student groups leading the protests — Scholarism and the Hong Kong Federation of Students — engaged in a second round of preliminary talks with a government official late Monday, Agence France-Presse reported.
“We hope there will be mutual respect shown during the meeting,” said Ray Lau, undersecretary of constitutional and mainland affairs. Lau is set to meet with the student leaders again on Tuesday, to set a time and place for talks with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, the deputy of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
The students have refused to meet with Leung. They have been calling for his ouster as well as for the right to choose his successor through free elections.
A few hundred protesters remained Monday at the sit-ins in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and across the harbor in Mong Kok, as some schools in affected areas reopened and most people went back to work as normal. Civil servants were granted access to the Central Government Offices, which has been besieged by demonstrators since Sept. 27.
The protest sites were still occupied Tuesday, with the situation calm. In the financial district, office workers presented an uncommon sight as they mingled with protesters and enjoyed their lunch breaks amid the silence and freshness of barricaded streets that are free, for once, of cars and choking fumes.