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HONG KONG - China issued a warning to pro-democracy "Umbrella Revolution" protesters as thousands of people filled Hong Kong's streets and surrounded government buildings on Thursday. In a front-page commentary, the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily mouthpiece said the central government firmly supported the Hong Kong police and “fully trusts Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and is very satisfied with his work." It added: "Handling affairs without following laws, Hong Kong society will be in chaos." Hong Kong police spokesman Steve Hui also told reporters on Thursday that blocking or occupying government buildings would lead to "serious consequences."
Student leaders vowed to occupy government buildings — including Leung’s office — unless he resigned by midnight (12 noon ET) Thursday. Authorities have so far tolerated the actions of tens of thousands of activists who have blocked key intersections, creating gridlock in the financial hub. The weeklong demonstration — seeking free choice of candidates in 2017 elections — are the biggest challenge to Beijing's authority since China took control of the former British colony in 1997.
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- Ed Flanagan and Alastair Jamieson
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.