Similar assurances by pro-Beijing politicians have done little to quell the fear or suppress the outrage of regular Hong Kong residents.
Regina Ip, a pro-Beijing lawmaker and former cabinet minister, and her team were among those unable to enter the council building because protesters had blocked surrounding roads, said Emma Li, a spokeswoman for Ms. Ip’s New People’s Party.
Pro-democracy lawmakers and activists lauded the protests and thanked the people for their efforts.
“We all, myself included, we underestimated people power in Hong Kong,” Claudia Mo, a pro-democracy lawmaker, told a crowd of protesters. “We in particular underestimated the young people’s power in Hong Kong, and we thank you.”
In China, information about the protests was being carefully scrubbed from social media and messaging groups. The ruling Communist Party’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, published an article Wednesday describing the protesters as colluding with foreign anti-China forces to “create social conflict and obstruct the operation of the legislative council.”
Protesters build barricades to block roads.
The demonstrators, many of them young people in black T-shirts and wearing surgical masks, set up heavy metal barriers on a wide road outside the Legislative Council, as the sound of the metal scraping the asphalt ricocheted through a canyon of skyscrapers. Hundreds of riot police, wearing full face shields and carrying batons, looked on.
The protest recalled the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement five years ago, which shut down several districts in the city — including the very roads that protesters were blocking on Wednesday — but ultimately failed to win any concessions from the government.
One of the protesters, Daniel Yeung, 21, stood on a cement barrier in the center of the road in the shadow of the legislative building, wearing black clothing, a white surgical mask and gardening gloves. The road, normally a busy thoroughfare, was now a sea of black shirts. A city bus stood stalled at the edge of the crowds.