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Protesting Students Press For Hong Kong's Leader To Step Down

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

China's state media is warning of chaos if pro-democracy protests continue in Hong Kong. Demonstrators have occupied three main parts of the city for five days now. Authorities appear to be waiting for the protesters to make their next move. NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports officials may also be waiting for the protesters to make a mistake.

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: Protesters and volunteers crush mounds of plastic water bottles for recycling. So begins another day in the main protest-zone, a sort of city within a city. Student activists are still considering possible next moves, including occupying government offices. Police warned there could be serious consequences if they try that. Pro-democracy lawmaker Albert Ho says that in any event, the protesters won't back down just because they're hot and tired.

ALBERT HO: No one can persuade the demonstrators to leave without achieving anything material so as to enable them to consider retreating with dignity.

KUHN: In Beijing meanwhile, official rhetoric continues to harden. The official People's Daily newspaper compared the protests in Hong Kong to the Arab Spring and Eastern Europe's color revolutions, which it said were instigated by Western governments. Albert Ho says the Chinese Communist Party boss Xi Jinping is facing a severe test of his leadership. He says Xi can't afford to have Hong Kong's special autonomous status undermined on his watch.

HO: Even Xi Jinping has to be politically accountable to the leadership if he failed in the policy of Hong Kong.

KUHN: Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Hong Kong. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.