Hong Kong Express, Spokane

TOPSHOTS A man holds a poster with imagA man holds a ‘wanted’ poster bearing images of police officers suspected of beating up a pro-democracy protester. Photograph: Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong’s embattled chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, said on Thursday afternoon that the government would welcome a dialogue with protest leaders, after two consecutive nights of violent clashes with police reinvigorated the pro-democracy movement, which has paralysed swaths of the city.

Yet Leung denied any possibility that officials would negotiate on any of the protesters’ core demands — that the government offer civic nominations and “full democracy” in 2017 elections, and that he step down. He added that the government has little tolerance for the protests, which have “created conflict with the public”.

“We will restore as soon as possible social order in Hong Kong, including traffic, ” he said. “Over the past few days, the police have effectively cleared various roads, the effect of which can be seen.”

Early on Friday morning, police moved in to remove some protesters’ tents and canopies in the Mong Kok area of the city. Police said they were not trying to clear the site, which is an offshoot protest zone across Victoria Harbour from the main occupied area in the city’s financial district.

Leung’s second-in-command, Carrie Lam, had agreed to talks earlier this month, but cancelled them after the gulf between the two sides’ demands appeared too wide to offer any hope of reconciliation.

On Thursday night, deputy secretary general of the Federation of Students, Lester Shum, told a crowd of protesters that students “would not be afraid of dialogue”, but did not mention a potential timeline for talks.

“If [Leung] is offering to talk but at the same time [is] ordering police to clear the scene violently, the people know how sincere he is, ” said Alex Chow, the group’s leader, according to the South China Morning Post.

Wai-chung Bastien, a 34-year-old protester, said: “What CY Leung repeated [on Thursday] is that they’re happy to have a dialogue, but the goal posts aren’t changing — meaning the goalposts are Beijing’s, and that he will not resign. The two sides have a wide gap between them.”

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