The ruling Chinese Communist Party has blacklisted four more student leaders of Hong Kong's democracy protests after three leading figures in the "Umbrella Movement" were denied access to a flight to Beijing, it emerged on Monday.
"We must first ask the people concerned whether or not they are willing to have their identities made public," said Nathan Law, one of three Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) representatives who tried to travel to Beijing on Saturday.
Law said the HKFS would make a "unified statement" on the blacklisting of the unnamed four student leaders after discussing it.
Chinese authorities have already revoked the travel permits of HKFS leaders Alex Chow, Law and Eason Chung, effectively denying them permission to board a plane to Beijing in a bid to speak to leaders of the ruling Chinese Communist Party about their demands for free elections.
Chow, Chung and Law were unable to board the Cathay Pacific flight at Hong Kong's International Airport, because their "home return permits" issued by China had been revoked.
The travel passes are issued to all citizens of Hong Kong and Macau wishing to cross the internal border into mainland China, but Chinese border guards have refused entry to prominent critics of Beijing in the past.
Law called on Beijing to act "according to the law."
"In other countries...you can't just cancel things on a whim," he said.
Chow told reporters on Monday there are now fears that the majority of Occupy Central student leaders, who are calling for public nomination of candidates in the 2017 elections for the next chief executive, may end up on China's immigration blacklist.
"We are currently plan a mass border-crossing to establish if there are any other students who aren't able to cross into mainland China," Chow said.
Hong Kong and mainland China operate separate immigration and border controls, under the terms of the city's 1997 return to Chinese rule. Hong Kong immigration officials apparently played no part in preventing the student leaders from leaving the former British colony.
But airlines generally check the immigration status of passengers before allowing them to board under international aviation agreements and local legislation.
Still on highways
The Occupy Central protesters have been encamped on major highways and intersections in downtown Hong Kong since Sept. 28, in a bid to win universal suffrage with no interference from Beijing.
China's parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), ruled on Aug. 31 that while all five million of Hong Kong's voters will cast ballots in the election, they will only be able to choose between two or three candidates pre-selected by Beijing.
Occupy protesters and pan-democratic politicians, who won 54 percent of the popular vote in the last legislative elections, have dismissed the proposed reform package as "fake universal suffrage."
Protests swelled to hundreds of thousands at their peak after an initial bid to clear the area of umbrella-toting protesters by police wielding tear-gas and pepper spray failed.
Hong Kong NPC delegate Rita Fan said on Monday that any country in the world can deny entry to individuals wishing to cross its borders.
"I believe that the HKFS members who had their home return permits revoked had committed illegal acts in Hong Kong," Fan said.
"It is likely that the decision to deny them entry came from central government," she said.
Meanwhile, protesters faced potential clearance from their campsites under civil injunctions granted by Hong Kong's High Court to transportation industry associations who are losing money from blocked bus and tram routes, and police have been authorized to prevent anyone from interfering with attempts to clear barricades around protest sites.
Occupy protesters encamped near government headquarters in Admiralty district said they weren't planning to leave, however.
"Our behavior is reasonable, and the government has made us no sort of offer," a protester surnamed Lio told RFA.
"But I am worried [that police will clear the site with force]," he said.
A second protester surnamed Hong said his bottom line was the abolition of all functional constituencies in the city's Legislative Council, industrial groupings that dilute the influence of pan-democratic lawmakers.
A third student protester said she would leave if forced to, but that any attempt to clear the Occupy camp would be "unfair."
"If they clear the area, we won't offer any resistance," she told RFA on Monday. "We will just find other ways to protest afterwards."
She said she believed the protesters' demands were fair and reasonable.
"Hong Kong is only a part of China with a relatively small population," she said. "We just want to elect a chief executive who will work for the people, not one that is [Beijing's] lapdog."
Meanwhile, public support for the Occupy protests has been dwindling, according to a new opinion survey published last weekend.
More than 67 percent of people surveyed said the activists should clear the streets immediately, the Chinese University of Hong Kong poll found.
During the polling period spanning Nov. 5 to Nov. 11, those against the movement rose to 43.5 percent from 35.5 percent in October, it said.
Reported by Yang Fan and Xin Lin for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.