Hong Kong’s main shopping districts were filled with demonstrators rather than shoppers Wednesday, as the pro-democracy demonstrations, now dubbed the “umbrella revolution,” continue into their fourth day.
Protesters swelled in the streets Tuesday night, undeterred by the rains and lightning, and continued to block roads during the day. Traffic was less of an ordeal as commuters had the day off for the public holiday, China’s national day. Protesters were centered in Central, Admiralty, Causeway Bay, Wanchai and Mong Kok, all big shopping districts. Stores have largely stayed open during the protests but some have had to shift their opening hours.
Visitors are expected to keep their distance from Hong Kong. One prominent visitor, Sarah Jessica Parker, called off an upcoming trip due to the protests. She was scheduled to be in town next week to promote her collaboration with jewelry designer Cindy Chao. Meanwhile, local Chinese media are reporting that several Chinese cities including Shanghai, Shenzhen, Yunnan and Hainan have put a halt on group travel visas for mainlanders wanting to go to Hong Kong. Authorities fear mainlanders will be targeted by protesters, according to the reports.
Protesters have been demanding that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying step down by Wednesday. Leung had said earlier this week that he would not resign and also acknowledged that the protests could go on for a long time.
Demonstrations continue to be peaceful and orderly. Protesters sat in the hot sun Wednesday afternoon; most were students but some families with young children joined in as well. Onlookers stood on the sidewalks, taking photos. Others showed support by dropping off supplies. There were well organized first aid tents set up in Causeway Bay and supplies, including food and water, set up at a tram stop. The lively scene at the protests was a contrast to the National Day celebrations at nearby Victoria Park which had few attendees.
Student protesters are threatening to ramp up the protests and start entering government buildings.