Hong Kong’s chief executive warned protesters not to return to the streets after they and police clashed late Sunday and early Monday outside government headquarters.
The clashes occurred in central Hong Kong after hundreds of demonstrators stormed past police lines in a bid to occupy a major road in the Admiralty district.
Hundreds of riot police armed with pepper spray and batons pushed back, injuring several protesters and arresting at least 18.
Protesters have been demanding direct elections of the city’s leader in 2017.
Hong Kong’s government Monday indicated it would be taking a harder line toward the protesters.
The city’s chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, warned protesters from returning to the area around the government offices, saying police had been tolerant but would now take “resolute action,” suggesting that patience may have finally run out.
Leung told reporters that some people have mistaken the Hong Kong police’s tolerance for weakness. Leung called for students to refrain from returning to the occupation sites Monday night.
Lai Tung-kwok, Hong Kong Secretary for Security, issued a separate warning to protesters.
"I think what happened last night, fully demonstrates that it has far, far away, gone beyond what they have declared. The police, after repeated warnings, have to take resolute actions. They have no choice, because it is their duty to restore law and order," said he.
'Plan was a failure'
Hong Kong Federation of Students leader Alex Chow said the protesters had intended to paralyze government headquarters, but did not succeed.
“The plan was a failure on the whole, given that even if some places were occupied, they were cleared by the police immediately,” Chow said.
Pa Sha, one of the protesters who demonstrated outside government offices late Sunday, said, “There were thousands of people breaking through police barricades and occupying the main road outside the chief executive’s office. And during that they faced huge amount of police attacks including using batons to hit the protesters.”
He said many protesters wore masks and goggles to protect themselves from the police, who used pepper spray and batons to push them away from government buildings.
Pa Sha also said the government’s response, so far, has failed to stop the demonstrations, even though there are divisions amongst protest organizers.
“There is still a lot of energy in the people and will to fight, a will to reignite the occupation, but unfortunately the organization is very weak,” he said.
Last week Hong Kong police arrested dozens of demonstrators and two leaders of the protests after clearing a popular protest site in the neighborhood of Mon Kok. Hong Kong has banned Joshua Wong, one of the most prominent student leaders, from returning to Mon Kok.
Meanwhile, British lawmakers called for an emergency session in parliament to discuss China’s decision to deny visas for lawmakers planning to travel to Hong Kong.
The British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has been investigating Britain’s relations with the Hong Kong government. Members said they were interested in looking into how Chinese authorities were handling the protests.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Hong Kong is the Special Autonomous Region of China and that the Chinese central government and Hong Kong government deal with relevant issues in accordance with law.
She told reporters in Beijing Monday the lawmakers are being denied visas because China is opposed to the investigation carried out by Britain’s lower house.
VOA's Mandarin Service contributed to this report. Some material came from Reuters.