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Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

  • Brian Padden

Two Hong Kong protest sites occupied by pro-democracy activists, the city's financial district and a high-end retail area, have been relatively calm, but the third site, the working class neighborhood Mong Kok, continues to be contentious.

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to the success of their movement, despite confrontations with angry residents, anti-protest groups and police.

In Mong Kok there are often lively discussions between pro-democracy activists and local residents. The students are demonstrating for the right to vote directly for Hong Kong's chief executive without having China first approve eligible candidates.

One woman says she supports the goal of the protesters but is not happy that they occupy a place where many working class people live and shop.

The occupied protest site in this mostly ethnic Chinese neighborhood, faces stiffer opposition than the sites in more well-to-do areas.

The activist's tents share the street with shoppers and commuters.

There are often confrontations with either angry residents or opposition groups who want to open the road to traffic again.

Police have tried to clear this site but the protesters later came back.

Despite the strong opposition here, the mostly-young student activists argue that if the protests are to succeed, they must hold Mong Kok.

Alfred Wong says holding all three protest sites is strategically important.

“Police can't concentrate themselves in one of these sites," he says, "So if Mong Kok [is] broken down by police, the other two sites will be more dangerous [vulnerable].”

Joshua Lam says here in Mong Kok the pro-democracy movement can broaden its support by engaging working class people and visitors from mainland China.

“I am trying to do this. I need to tell the real things to everyone from other countries, living here, even other sites," he notesays, "I need to tell them real true things for everyone.”

And Kyle Lam says the constant opposition in Mong Kok has attracted protesters who are more willing to resist than those at the Admiralty site, who allowed police to retake a key road.

“The protesters in Admiralty just fall back and fall back and the the Long-Wu road is lost. But in here, in Mong Kok we are, tend to be more. We want to maintain this occupation area," he said.

The activists also say these Mong Kok confrontations keep their cause in the news and keep pressure on the Hong Kong government and China to peacefully resolve this crisis.