Hong Kong (China) (AFP) – Hong Kong’s embattled leader reopened his offer of talks with student leaders Thursday a week after the government abruptly pulled out of discussions aimed at ending weeks of mass democracy rallies.
“Over the last few days, including this morning through third parties, we expressed a wish to the students that we would like to start a dialogue to discuss universal suffrage as soon as we can and hopefully within the following week,” Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told reporters.
The offer comes after a two day spike in violence between police and protesters in which video footage emerged of plainclothes officers beating a handcuffed demonstrator as he lay on the ground in a public park in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The video caused widespread outrage among demonstrators who have previously accused police of using excessive violence and failing to protect their ranks from repeated assaults by government loyalists.
Leung refused to be drawn on the video saying: “We should not politicize this incident.”
Protesters are calling for Leung to step down and for Beijing to rescind a decision made in August that his successor in 2017 must be vetted by a loyalist committee before standing for election — something demonstrators have called “fake democracy”.
But it remains to be seen what headway could be made in talks between the government and protesters as Leung reiterated that Beijing will not row back on its August decision.
“Politics is the art of the possible and we have to draw a line between possibilities and impossibilities,” he said.
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