The Wall Street Journal: Hong Kong protests dwindle as city returns to work
HONG KONG — Student protesters and government officials were no closer to resolving a standoff that has rocked the city for 11 days, leaving a dwindling number of demonstrators in the streets in limbo.
Meanwhile, residents’ patience with traffic jams and other disruptions caused by the protests appeared to be running out. Protest sites were quiet Monday with onlookers and police occasionally outnumbering the demonstrators.
Commuters, parents and shopkeepers grumbled over delays, school closings and lost revenue caused by lingering protesters as a regular work week resumed Monday. The complaints added to pressure on protest organizers, who are attempting to maintain momentum without losing the support of the general public. The uncertain time frame around when students and government officials would finally sit down together didn’t help.
A representative for Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s No. 2 official who will lead the negotiations with the students, said late Monday that the government hopes talks with student protesters will start this week, but said that neither the time, the venue or the topic to be discussed have been set.
The representative, Lau Kong-wah, said that some progress was made in a Monday evening meeting and that discussions were “very honest,” he said. Another meeting, the third to agree on the format for the talks, will be held Tuesday.
An official familiar with the preliminary talks said that while there is good will, “each side is really laying down conditions on how to engage and if we get too bogged down by the technicalities…then it would drag on.”
The official said that the government was also working via other avenues to find a solution.
Mr. Lau said if the discussions between student leaders and Ms. Lam are “fruitful,” the government pledges to implement any decision reached by consensus. The talks will be “open” so that the public can hear the content of the discussions, he added, without elaborating.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.