Hong Kong protesters at odds over pullback plan

Deadline Looms for Hong Kong Protesters to Back Down

HONG KONG (AP) -- Hong Kong's pro-democracy activists appeared divided after some agreed to remove some barriers blocking roads and sidewalks ahead of a Monday deadline set by the government and scale back their protests, while others refused to budge.

An alliance of students that has led the massive protests that began on university campuses and then spread to the city's streets said Sunday that it was resuming discussions with the government over holding talks on their demands for wider political reforms. But it vowed to continue the protests while details of the talks were being worked out, and said those preparations would be halted if the authorities used force to clear protesters from areas they have been occupying for over a week.

"As to whether the government will keep its word we will just have to see," the Hong Kong Federation of Students said in a statement. "In the meantime all we can do is preliminary preparations."

Earlier in the day, students occupying the area just outside city government headquarters agreed to remove some barricades that were blocking the building's entrance, after the government said it would do whatever was necessary to ensure 3,000 civil servants would have full access to their offices on Monday.

The partial withdrawal appeared to be part of a strategy to regroup in another part of town, as protesters were urged to shift from other areas to Hong Kong's Admiralty shopping and business district, a central location near the government's main offices that has served as an informal headquarters for the protests.

Officials said they intended to have key streets open for schools and offices by Monday morning, but it was unclear whether they would act to clear the streets and other areas by force or just settle for a partial victory in clearing some roads. The government announced a reopening of schools and some roads, but indicated some disruptions were likely to continue.

"To restore order, we are determined and we are confident we have the capability to take any necessary action," said police spokesman Steve Hui. "There should not be any unreasonable, unnecessary obstruction by any members of the public."

Television footage showed a protest representative shaking hands with a police officer outside government headquarters and the two sides removing some barricades together. About 300 demonstrators stood by outside the government building's main entrance, but then many sat back down and refused to leave.

"I'm against any kind of withdrawal or tendency to surrender," said Do Chan, a protester in his 30s. "I think withdrawing, I mean shaking hands with the police, is a very ugly gesture of surrender."

Across the harbor in Hong Kong's Mong Kok district, where protesters had clashed with those opposed to their sit-ins, some demonstrators heeded calls to head home or shift to Admiralty. Others, however, said they were determined to stay. The hundreds of people milling around in the blue collar shopping district - the scene of ugly confrontations overnight between protesters, their opponents and police - appeared relatively relaxed as many began to clear out, though some said they were just heading home.

"I don't know what the next step is, but I will not retreat. The people you see here will not retreat," said Burnett Tung, an 18-year-old student who has served as a volunteer at a food supply station outside government headquarters all week.

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Hong Kong - Pro-democracy protests (updated 10/16/2014)
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Hong Kong protesters at odds over pullback plan
A man walks past a barricade set up by pro-demoracy protesters in Hong Kong on October 16, 2014. Hong Kong's embattled leader made a dramatic u-turn reopening his offer of talks with student protesters a week after the government abruptly pulled out of discussions aimed at ending more than a fortnight of mass democracy rallies. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A man pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair complain to the police about a barricade set up by pro-demoracy protesters in Hong Kong on October 16, 2014. Hong Kong's embattled leader made a dramatic u-turn reopening his offer of talks with student protesters a week after the government abruptly pulled out of discussions aimed at ending more than a fortnight of mass democracy rallies. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - OCTOBER 10: Thousands of pro-democracy protesters fill what has now been called ' Umbrella Square' at Admiralty for a rally on October 10, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. The rally comes after government officials called off talks with student leaders yesterday. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - OCTOBER 10: Thousands of pro-democracy protesters fill what has now been called ' Umbrella Square' at Admiralty for a rally on October 10, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. The rally comes after government officials called off talks with student leaders yesterday. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - OCTOBER 10: Pro-democracy protesters listen to speeches during a rally at what has now been called ' Umbrella Square' at Admiralty on October 10, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. The rally comes after government officials called off talks with student leaders yesterday. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy demonstrators attend a rally next to the central government offices in Hong Kong on October 10, 2014. Hong Kong's democracy protest leaders implored supporters October 10 to bring tents and dig in for the long haul, threatening to expand their occupation of key parts of the city after talks with the government collapsed. AFP PHOTO / Pedro Ugarte (Photo credit should read PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro democracy protesters gather at Admiralty district during a rally after government called off the talks with students on October 10, 2014 in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has been plunged into the worst political crisis since its 1997 handover as pro-democracy activists take over the streets following China's refusal to grant citizens full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Strings of garland-like paper umbrellas hang from a bridge at Admiralty district during the rally after government called off talks with students on October 10, 2014 in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has been plunged into the worst political crisis since its 1997 handover as pro-democracy activists take over the streets following China's refusal to grant citizens full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro democracy protesters gather at Admiralty district during the rally after government called off the talks with students on October 10, 2014 in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has been plunged into the worst political crisis since its 1997 handover as pro-democracy activists take over the streets following China's refusal to grant citizens full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy demonstrators gather for a rally in Hong Kong on October 10, 2014. Hong Kong's democracy protest leaders implored supporters October 10 to bring tents and dig in for the long haul, threatening to expand their occupation of key parts of the city after talks with the government collapsed. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People are seen on an escalator as pro-democracy demonstrators gather for a rally in Hong Kong on October 10, 2014. Hong Kong's democracy protest leaders implored supporters October 10 to bring tents and dig in for the long haul, threatening to expand their occupation of key parts of the city after talks with the government collapsed. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators stand in front of police in the Mong Kok area in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. A week into demonstrations in Hong Kong notable for their order and endurance, protesters came under attack from opponents, highlighting the fault lines of a city torn between commercial interests and a desire for greater democracy. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Police with riot gear stand guard in the Mong Kok area in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. A week into demonstrations in Hong Kong notable for their order and endurance, protesters came under attack from opponents, highlighting the fault lines of a city torn between commercial interests and a desire for greater democracy. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A policeman shouts during protests in the Mong Kok area in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. A week into demonstrations in Hong Kong notable for their order and endurance, protesters came under attack from opponents, highlighting the fault lines of a city torn between commercial interests and a desire for greater democracy. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A demonstrator wears a t-shirt with an image of South African leader Nelson Mandela during protests in the Mong Kok area in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. A week into demonstrations in Hong Kong notable for their order and endurance, protesters came under attack from opponents, highlighting the fault lines of a city torn between commercial interests and a desire for greater democracy. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Police stand guard in the Mong Kok area in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. A week into demonstrations in Hong Kong notable for their order and endurance, protesters came under attack from opponents, highlighting the fault lines of a city torn between commercial interests and a desire for greater democracy. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HONG KONG - OCTOBER 05: Police stand guard during a pro-democracy protest in the Mongkok area of Hong Kong on October 5, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters continue to occupy the streets surrounding Hong Kong's Financial district. The protesters are calling for open elections and the resignation of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who last night agreed to hold talks with the protest leaders in a bid to diffuse the growing unrest. (Photo by Thomas Campean/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy demonstrators gather for a night rally in Hong Kong on October 4, 2014. Hopes of finding a resolution to a week of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong collapsed Saturday as students scrapped talks with the government over violent attacks by Beijing supporters and suspected triad members. Hong Kong's security chief furiously denied the government had used triad gangs against pro-democracy protesters. AFP PHOTO / ANTHONY WALLACE (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)
A man lights a cigarette as he talks to a crowd of pro-democracy protesters about why the occupation of the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong should end on October 4, 2014. Tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators gathered for a mass peace rally in central Hong Kong late Saturday, defying recent attacks against their ranks as the city authorities denied using paid thugs to harass them. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators sit on a road during a protest in the Causeway Bay area of Hong Kong, China, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. A week into demonstrations in Hong Kong notable for their order and endurance, protesters came under attack from opponents, highlighting the fault lines of a city torn between commercial interests and a desire for greater democracy. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HONG KONG - OCTOBER 03: A pro-democracy activist screams at local residents and pro-government supporters as they protect their protest site on October 3, 2014 in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. Fights broke out between local residents and pro government supporters when they attempted to force pro-democracy activists from their protest site. Thousands of pro democracy supporters continue to occupy the streets surrounding Hong Kong's Financial district. Protest leaders have set an October 1st deadline for their demands to be met and are calling for open elections and the resignation of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Pedestrians look at demonstrators as they sit on a road during a protest in the Causeway Bay area of Hong Kong, China, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. A week into demonstrations in Hong Kong notable for their order and endurance, protesters came under attack from opponents, highlighting the fault lines of a city torn between commercial interests and a desire for greater democracy. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A couple look down on an empty road and tramway in the Causeway Bay area of Hong Kong, China, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. A week into demonstrations in Hong Kong notable for their order and endurance, protesters came under attack from opponents, highlighting the fault lines of a city torn between commercial interests and a desire for greater democracy. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A demonstrator reads a book as he sits holding an umbrella along with other demonstrators in front of a Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd. store during a protest in the Causeway Bay area of Hong Kong, China, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. A week into demonstrations in Hong Kong notable for their order and endurance, protesters came under attack from opponents, highlighting the fault lines of a city torn between commercial interests and a desire for greater democracy. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HONG KONG - OCTOBER 04: Pro-democracy protesters rests on a blockaded road next to the central government offices in Hong Kong on October 4, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters continue to occupy the streets surrounding Hong Kong's Financial district. The protesters are calling for open elections and the resignation of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who last night agreed to hold talks with the protest leaders in a bid to diffuse the growing unrest. (Photo by Thomas Campean/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - OCTOBER 03: Anti-Occupy supporters chant at the Occupy camp in Causeway Bay on October 3, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters continue to occupy the streets surrounding Hong Kong's Financial district. The protesters are calling for open elections and the resignation of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who last night agreed to hold talks with the protest leaders in a bid to diffuse the growing unrest. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - OCTOBER 03: Anti-Occupy supporters chant at the Occupy camp in Causeway Bay on October 3, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters continue to occupy the streets surrounding Hong Kong's Financial district. The protesters are calling for open elections and the resignation of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who last night agreed to hold talks with the protest leaders in a bid to diffuse the growing unrest. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - OCTOBER 03: Police remove barricades on a street in Causeway Bay on October 3, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters continue to occupy the streets surrounding Hong Kong's Financial district. The protesters are calling for open elections and the resignation of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who last night agreed to hold talks with the protest leaders in a bid to diffuse the growing unrest. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - OCTOBER 03: Anti-Occupy supporters chant at the Occupy camp in Causeway Bay on October 3, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters continue to occupy the streets surrounding Hong Kong's Financial district. The protesters are calling for open elections and the resignation of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who last night agreed to hold talks with the protest leaders in a bid to diffuse the growing unrest. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - OCTOBER 03: Pro-democracy activists are pushed through the crowd to safety after clashing with local residents and pro-government supporters on October 3, 2014 in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. Fights broke out between local residents and pro government supporters when they attempted to force pro-democracy activists from their protest site. Thousands of pro democracy supporters continue to occupy the streets surrounding Hong Kong's Financial district. Protest leaders have set an October 1st deadline for their demands to be met and are calling for open elections and the resignation of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - OCTOBER 03: Local residents and pro-government supporters scream at pro-democracy protesters on October 3, 2014 in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. Fights broke out between local residents and pro government supporters when they attempted to force pro-democracy activists from their protest site. Thousands of pro democracy supporters continue to occupy the streets surrounding Hong Kong's Financial district. Protest leaders have set an October 1st deadline for their demands to be met and are calling for open elections and the resignation of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy demonstrators look on as they protect a barricade from anti-protesters in an occupied area of Hong Kong on October 3, 2014. Pro-democracy protesters clashed with opposition groups in two of Hong Kong's busiest shopping districts on October 3, with police stepping in to try to calm the chaos. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy demonstrators walk past the People's Liberation Army Garrison headquarters building as they gather for the third night in Hong Kong on September 30, 2014. The demonstrators have demanded full universal suffrage after Beijing said it would allow elections for the semi-autonomous city's next leader in 2017 but would vet the candidates -- a decision branded a 'fake democracy'. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy demonstrators check their smart phones in the central district as they gather for the third night in Hong Kong on September 30, 2014. The demonstrators have demanded full universal suffrage after Beijing said it would allow elections for the semi-autonomous city's next leader in 2017 but would vet the candidates -- a decision branded a 'fake democracy'. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy demonstrators gather for the third night in Hong Kong on September 30, 2014. The demonstrators have demanded full universal suffrage after Beijing said it would allow elections for the semi-autonomous city's next leader in 2017 but would vet the candidates -- a decision branded a 'fake democracy'. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 29: A protester instructs people to move to Chater Road in the Central District on September 29, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters have remained in the streets of Hong Kong for another day of protests. Protestors are unhappy with Chinese government's plans to vet candidates in Hong Kong's 2017 elections. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 29: Protesters parade a large cut out of the head of C.Y. Leung in the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 29, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters have remained in the streets of Hong Kong for another day of protests. Protestors are unhappy with Chinese government's plans to vet candidates in Hong Kong's 2017 elections. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 29: Protesters gather in the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 29, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters have remained in the streets of Hong Kong for another day of protests. Protestors are unhappy with Chinese government's plans to vet candidates in Hong Kong's 2017 elections. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy protesters gather behind barricades next to luxury stores Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton in the Central district of Hong Kong on September 29, 2014. Hong Kong has been plunged into the worst political crisis since its 1997 handover as pro-democracy activists take over the streets following China's refusal to grant citizens full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy protesters gather around the luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel in the Central district of Hong Kong on September 29, 2014. Hong Kong has been plunged into the worst political crisis since its 1997 handover as pro-democracy activists take over the streets following China's refusal to grant citizens full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 29: A protester instructs people to move to Chater Road in the Central District on September 29, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters have remained in the streets of Hong Kong for another day of protests. Protestors are unhappy with Chinese government's plans to vet candidates in Hong Kong's 2017 elections. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold an effigy of Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong's chief executive, as they protest near the central government offices in the business district of Admiralty in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters poured back into the streets of Hong Kong, choking roads in three different points of the city to press demands for free and open elections and the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protestors and student demonstrators hold up their cellphones in a display of solidarity during a protest outside the headquarters of Legislative Council in Hong Kong on September 29, 2014. Hong Kong has been plunged into the worst political crisis since its 1997 handover as pro-democracy activists take over the streets following China's refusal to grant citizens full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Protestors gather at Wanchai district in Hong Kong on September 29, 2014. Hong Kong has been plunged into the worst political crisis since its 1997 handover as pro-democracy activists take over the streets following China's refusal to grant citizens full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 29: Protesters put on goggles and wrap themselves in clear wrap after hearing a rumour that police were coming with tear gas outside the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 29, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters have remained in the streets of Hong Kong for another day of protests. Protestors are unhappy with Chinese government's plans to vet candidates in Hong Kong's 2017 elections. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 29: A man helps protesters use a makeshift ladder to climb over concrete street barricades outside the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 29, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters have remained in the streets of Hong Kong for another day of protests. Protestors are unhappy with Chinese government's plans to vet candidates in Hong Kong's 2017 elections. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 29: Protesters wave their cell phones in the air in the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 29, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters have remained in the streets of Hong Kong for another day of protests. Protestors are unhappy with Chinese government's plans to vet candidates in Hong Kong's 2017 elections. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 29: Protesters gather in the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 29, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters have remained in the streets of Hong Kong for another day of protests. Protestors are unhappy with Chinese government's plans to vet candidates in Hong Kong's 2017 elections. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 29: Protesters gather in the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 29, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters have remained in the streets of Hong Kong for another day of protests. Protestors are unhappy with Chinese government's plans to vet candidates in Hong Kong's 2017 elections. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Two young pro-democracy protesters hand out food and masks to other demonstrators at a rally in the Causeway Bay area of Hong Kong on September 29, 2014. Hong Kong has been plunged into the worst political crisis since its 1997 handover as pro-democracy activists take over the streets following China's refusal to grant citizens full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy demonstrators hold up their mobile phones during a protest near the Hong Kong government headquarters on September 29, 2014. The ranks of Hong Kong democracy protesters who have paralysed parts of the city swelled into their tens of thousands on September 29, digging in for another night of confrontation with police in their campaign for free elections. AFP PHOTO / DALE DE LA REY (Photo credit should read DALE de la REY/AFP/Getty Images)
A man uses a smartphone to take photographs of a blocked stairwell at Admiralty MTR station, occupied by demonstrators in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. Pro-democracy protesters vowed to press ahead with demonstrations unless Hong Kongâs top official steps down, with thousands of people surrounding government offices after violent clashes paralyzed the city center. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 29: Protesters wave their cell phones in the air in the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 29, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Thousands of pro democracy supporters have remained in the streets of Hong Kong for another day of protests. Protestors are unhappy with Chinese government's plans to vet candidates in Hong Kong's 2017 elections. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
A pro-democracy protester wears plastic wrap to protect himself from pepper spray at a rally near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
Spectators watch as thousands of demonstrators storm onto a highway after breaking through police cordons during ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / JEROME TAYLOR (Photo credit should read JEROME TAYLOR/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers walk up an escalator shortly after thousands of demonstrators storm onto a highway after breaking through police cordons during ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / JEROME TAYLOR (Photo credit should read JEROME TAYLOR/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators dressed in protective masks and ponchos carry sodium chloride solution to be used as an eye wash if pepper spray is deployed by police during ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / JEROME TAYLOR (Photo credit should read JEROME TAYLOR/AFP/Getty Images)
Thousands of demonstrators storm onto a highway after breaking through police cordons during ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / JEROME TAYLOR (Photo credit should read JEROME TAYLOR/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy protesters wear protective clothing and face masks as they rally near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-democracy protester screams at police near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-democracy protester shouts slogans at police near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators disperse as tear gas is fired by police during a protest near central government offices in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. Pro-democracy protesters kick-started their campaign to occupy central Hong Kong after police clashed with students, demanding that China withdraws proposals to control the citys elections. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Police fire tear gas at demonstrators during a protest near central government offices in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. Pro-democracy protesters kick-started their campaign to occupy central Hong Kong after police clashed with students, demanding that China withdraws proposals to control the citys elections. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Police fire tear gas at demonstrators during a protest near central government offices in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. Pro-democracy protesters kick-started their campaign to occupy central Hong Kong after police clashed with students, demanding that China withdraws proposals to control the citys elections. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Police fire tear gas at demonstrators during a protest near central government offices in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. Pro-democracy protesters kick-started their campaign to occupy central Hong Kong after police clashed with students, demanding that China withdraws proposals to control the citys elections. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images
People walk along a closed road near the site of a pro-democracy protest near the Hong Kong government headquarters on September 29, 2014. Police repeatedly fired tear gas after tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28 in protest at Beijing's refusal to grant the city unfettered democracy. AFP PHOTO / DALE DE LA REY (Photo credit should read DALE de la REY/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy demonstrators rest after a night of protesting at a rally outside the Hong Kong government headquarters on September 29, 2014. Police repeatedly fired tear gas after tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28 in protest at Beijing's refusal to grant the city unfettered democracy. AFP PHOTO / DALE DE LA REY (Photo credit should read DALE de la REY/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy demonstrators rest after a night of protesting at a rally outside the Hong Kong government headquarters on September 29, 2014. Police repeatedly fired tear gas after tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28 in protest at Beijing's refusal to grant the city unfettered democracy. AFP PHOTO / DALE DE LA REY (Photo credit should read DALE de la REY/AFP/Getty Images)
Police rest after a night of keeping vigil at a pro-democracy demonstration near the Hong Kong government headquarters on September 29, 2014. Police repeatedly fired tear gas after tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28 in protest at Beijing's refusal to grant the city unfettered democracy. AFP PHOTO / DALE DE LA REY (Photo credit should read DALE de la REY/AFP/Getty Images)
People pass out food and drink at a pro-democracy protest on Nathan Road, a major route through the heart of the Kowloon district of Hong Kong, on September 29, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy protesters argue with a man (L) opposing their occupation of Nathan Road, a major route through the heart of the Kowloon district of Hong Kong, on September 29, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
A commuter joins in the chanting with pro-democracy protesters as they gather on Nathan Road, a major route through the heart of the Kowloon district of Hong Kong, on September 29, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
People stand on top of an entrance to the Mong Kok MTR station overlooking a pro-democracy protest on Nathan Road, a major route through the heart of the Kowloon district of Hong Kong, on September 29, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
A protester rests following pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on September 29, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters rest following pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on September 29, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Policemen rest following pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on September 29, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters rest following pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on September 29, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Police confront demonstrators during a protest in Hong Kong, China, in the early morning hours of Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. Thousands of Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrators defied tear gas and pepper spray to occupy the city center, as police undertook the biggest crackdown since the city returned to Chinese rule. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 29: Demonstrators disperse as tear gas is fired by police during a protest on September 29, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of people kicked off Occupy Central by taking over Connaught Road, one of the major highway in Hong Kong, in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 29: Demonstrators disperse as tear gas is fired by police during a protest on September 29, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of people kicked off Occupy Central by taking over Connaught Road, one of the major highway in Hong Kong, in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
A demonstrator gestures opposite policemen during a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Security forces wearing gas masks take position opposite demonstrators taking part in a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters protect themselves from tear gas fired by police during riots that followed a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Riot policemen take position opposite demonstrators during a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters protect themselves from tear gas fired by police during riots that followed a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy protestersput their hands up in the air in fron of the police in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. It marked a dramatic escalation of protests in the city, which rarely sees such violence, after a tense week of largely contained student-led demonstrations exploded into mass angry street protests. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-democracy protester runs along a road after the police fired tear gas in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. It marked a dramatic escalation of protests in the city, which rarely sees such violence, after a tense week of largely contained student-led demonstrations exploded into mass angry street protests. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy protesters run away from tear gas fired by the police in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. It marked a dramatic escalation of protests in the city, which rarely sees such violence, after a tense week of largely contained student-led demonstrations exploded into mass angry street protests. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers face off with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. It marked a dramatic escalation of protests in the city, which rarely sees such violence, after a tense week of largely contained student-led demonstrations exploded into mass angry street protests. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-democracy protester wraps his face with plastic wrap to protect himself against tear gas in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on September 28, in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. It marked a dramatic escalation of protests in the city, which rarely sees such violence, after a tense week of largely contained student-led demonstrations exploded into mass angry street protests. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
Volunteers and demonstrators sit outside a makeshift first-aid post, in the form of a Citybus Ltd. commuter bus, in the business district of Admiralty in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. Pro-democracy protesters vowed to press ahead with demonstrations unless Hong Kong's top official steps down, with thousands of people surrounding government offices after violent clashes paralyzed the city center. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Police officers stand off with pro-democracy protesters next to the Hong Kong police headquarters in the Wan Chai area of Hong Kong on September 29, 2014. Hong Kong has been plunged into the worst political crisis since its 1997 handover as pro-democracy activists take over the streets following China's refusal to grant citizens full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
A young girl laughs as she holds a picture she drew of herself crying next to the number '689', in reference to the number of votes counted to elect Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, at a rally in the Causeway Bay area of Hong Kong on September 29, 2014. Hong Kong has been plunged into the worst political crisis since its 1997 handover as pro-democracy activists take over the streets following China's refusal to grant citizens full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
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Since Sept. 28, tens of thousands of people, many of them students, have poured into the streets of the semi-autonomous city to peacefully protest China's restrictions on the first-ever direct election for Hong Kong's leader, promised by Beijing for 2017. The protests are the strongest challenge to authorities in Hong Kong - and in Beijing - since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

China has promised that Hong Kong can have universal suffrage by 2017, but says a committee of mostly pro-Beijing figures must screen candidates for the top job. The protesters also are demanding the resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, the city's current leader. He has refused to step down.

With the standoff stretching into Week 2, tempers flared and patience was waning among residents who oppose the occupation of the streets and the disruption it has brought.

Police said they had arrested 30 people since the protests started and that they used pepper spray overnight Saturday on crowds that had provoked officers with verbal abuse. Protesters, meanwhile, complained the police were failing to protect them from attacks by mobs intent on driving them away. The students say police have allied themselves with criminal gangs to clear them, but the government has vehemently denied the accusation.

The atmosphere on the streets was tense Sunday amid fears police may use tear gas to disperse the protesters, as they did last weekend. University administrators were warning students to leave the streets.

"I am making this appeal from my heart because I genuinely believe that if you stay, there is a risk to your safety," said Peter Mathieson, president of Hong Kong University. "Please leave now. You owe it to your loved ones to put your safety above all other considerations."

In Mong Kok late Sunday, police officers carrying guns patrolled the area, and at least one officer was seen carrying tear gas canisters.

"This is a public place, people need to use this road, people need to live here," said Johnson Cheung, 26, who works in a duty-free shop. "The students don't need to make a living, their parents pay for them. But we have jobs, we have to live."

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Associated Press writers Sylvia Hui and Louise Watt contributed to this report.

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