Hong Kong Braces for Protest Escalation

A deadline set for Hong Kong's chief executive was at hand Thursday, and residents were waiting to see what happens next. Protesters have told Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying they will move to occupy government ministries in the territory if he does not step down by the end of the day. Such a move by protesters would seriously escalate the protests, which began September 26, and could force a crackdown by Beijing. China’s foreign minister warned Hong Kong demonstrators about the “illegal” protests. “For any country, for any society, no-one will allow those illegal acts that violate public order," Wang Yi said during a visit to Washington D.C. with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry.

Wang also indicated, however, that Hong Kong authorities would be left to control the masses, at least for now. "We believe that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's government has the capability to properly handle the current situation in accordance with the law," he said. Wang is most the senior Chinese official to speak openly about the protests, which have been occurring for nearly a week. The protests of Hong Kong have not yet spread to mainland China, which celebrated the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on Tuesday.