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The leader of Hong Kong refused on Thursday to resign, defying a deadline set by pro-democracy protesters. He told thousands of people massed in the city center that “the consequences are serious” if they surround or attack government buildings.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying offered instead to dispatch a subordinate to meet with student protesters to discuss political reforms. Student leaders confirmed that they accepted the meeting, but there was no indication when it would take place.

As Friday began in Hong Kong, police with batons and shields stood guard at government offices, facing a throng of protesters behind barricades. The protests were mostly calm. Shortly before the midnight deadline, Joshua Wong, one of the movement's student leaders, had appealed to the crowd to not clash with police.

The demonstrations, the most serious challenge to Chinese authority in Hong Kong since China resumed control of it from Britain in 1997, were touched off when China refused to allow free elections there in 2017.



— Ed Flanagan and Erin McClam with Reuters