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HK gov't holds 1st formal talks with protesting students

HK gov't holds 1st formal talks with protesting students

China's Hong Kong government on Tuesday held the first formal talks with students who have been participating in the Occupy Central movement since Sept. 28 in the city.

Present at the meeting are five Hong Kong government officials and five students representing a student organization taking part in the 23-day-long demonstration.

The meeting, presided over by Lingnan University President Leonard Cheng, was held at the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine where the two sides would exchange views and discuss Hong Kong's constitutional reform, including how the region's next leader will be elected by universal suffrage in 2017.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam and his aide Lau Kong-wah, as well as Edward Yau, director of the Chief Executive's Office, attended the meeting as the Hong Kong government representatives.

Alex Chow, one of the key leaders of the protesting students, and his aide Lester Shum as well as three other members of the Hong Kong Federation of Students Eason Chung, Nathan Law, Yvonne Leung, speak for the student protesters.

At the start of the talks, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam said the government respected the students' cause of and persistence in their pursue for democracy, which, however, should be sought for in a legal, fair and reasonable approach.

She hoped the students could take the interests of Hong Kong people and take the lead to urge protesters to disperse as it would not help solve disputes over constitutional reform.

Alex Chow, secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, said at the opening remarks that many Hong Kong citizens disagree with the decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee on Aug. 31, and that an unfair method for the planned universal suffrage would lead Hong Kong to a society with widening income gap.

Thousands of protesters, most of whom are students, joined the Occupy Central movement to express their discontent with the framework set by the top legislature on electing the region's next leader through universal suffrage. Under Hong Kong's Basic Law and the top legislature's decisions, more than 5 million Hong Kong voters could have a say to who will become the chief executive in 2017 through the "one man, one vote" election, which had never been realized under the British colonial rule.

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