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HONG KONG, October 13. /TASS/. Hundreds of people opposing protests attempted to tear down barricades in downtown Hong Kong on Monday, clashing with demonstrators who have been rallying for over two weeks.
Unidentified people wearing masks joined the police effort to remove the barricades near the business center and tried to dismantle several tents of the activists.
Police made a number of arrests to stop the scuffles, local media reports said. The demonstrators did not clash with police officers but continued seizing a number of barricades in the key protest areas.
The embattled chief executive of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-yin, said no serious clashes were reported on Monday and police helped to return the city to the normal life.
Leung stressed that police are showing “maximum tolerance” towards the protesters, and the public disorder cannot last for long. He urged students to leave the streets.
Demonstrations involving thousands of students who are demanding the resignation of Leung and free democratic election entered their third week on Monday.
The protests were thought to be dying out since early last week when protest leaders were expected to start talks with Carrie Lam, the second-ranking official in the Hong Kong government.
However, the rallies intensified on Friday after the government called off the proposed round of talks.
Demonstrators say they have the right to freely elect the chief executive of the territory, which was handed by Britain back to China in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula that guarantees freedoms not seen on the mainland, including the right to protest.
China’s authorities have promised to allow this practice in 2017 on condition that there are no more than three candidates who need to be approved by the nominating committee controlled by Beijing.
These restrictions do not allow pro-democracy candidates to participate in the elections, protesters say.
The movement has been dubbed "the Umbrella Revolution" after many people used umbrellas to protect themselves from pepper spray and tear gas, as well as to cope with oppressive heat.