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Student leader vows to step up protests

A student leader vowed yesterday to step up Hong Kong's huge pro-democracy protests, including a possible occupation of government offices, unless the city's leader steps down within a day.The announcement came as tens of thousands of defiant demonstrators poured onto the streets on China's National Day. 

"If our Chief Executive and the central government (China) do not respect and listen to our people's opinion, we will consider having different operating actions in future days, including occupying other places like important government offices," said Miss Agnes Chow of the Scholarism student movement.

Miss Chow said the deadline for Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying was "today or tomorrow".

Mr Chan Kin Man, co-founder of the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement which co-organised the demonstrations, said any escalation would be "an action initiative by the students" and called for it to be peaceful.

But he ruled out any dialogue with Mr Leung, AFP reported.

"We can talk to anyone in the government except him...resign for the sake of Hong Kong."

CRITICISED

Mr Leung has faced mounting calls to step down and has been criticised for failing to engage with protesters.

As evening fell, thousands crammed into a 1km stretch between the Central business district and Wanchai.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr Leung's administration is planning to sit out the protests - hoping they fizzle out rather than trying to clear them by force - on Beijing's orders.

"Beijing has set a line to C.Y. (Leung). You cannot open fire," the newspaper quoted a source familiar with the matter as saying. "You must halt it in a peaceful way."

International support for the protesters has been growing. A Facebook group calling itself "United For Democracy: Global Solidarity With Hong Kong" said it was planning events from Australia to the US.

More than 1,000 sympathisers gathered in the Taiwanese capital last night.