World

Fruitless Hong Kong protest talks highlight vast gulf between young students, senior officials

  • A line of riot police stand guard near a barricade at an occupied area, in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Hong Kong student leaders and government officials talked but agreed on little Tuesday as the city's Beijing-backed leader reaffirmed his unwillingness to compromise on the key demand of activists camped in the streets now for a fourth week.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

    A line of riot police stand guard near a barricade at an occupied area, in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Hong Kong student leaders and government officials talked but agreed on little Tuesday as the city's Beijing-backed leader reaffirmed his unwillingness to compromise on the key demand of activists camped in the streets now for a fourth week. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)  (The Associated Press)

  • A protester bleeds from his face as he tries to stop a group of taxi drivers from trying to remove the barricades which are blocking off main roads, near a line of riot police at an occupied area, in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.  Hong Kong student leaders and government officials talked but agreed on little Tuesday as the city's Beijing-backed leader reaffirmed his unwillingness to compromise on the key demand of activists camped in the streets now for a fourth week.  (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

    A protester bleeds from his face as he tries to stop a group of taxi drivers from trying to remove the barricades which are blocking off main roads, near a line of riot police at an occupied area, in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Hong Kong student leaders and government officials talked but agreed on little Tuesday as the city's Beijing-backed leader reaffirmed his unwillingness to compromise on the key demand of activists camped in the streets now for a fourth week. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)  (The Associated Press)

  • A protester sitting on a barricade tries to stop taxi drivers from removing it near a line of riot police, at an occupied area, in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Hong Kong student leaders and government officials talked but agreed on little Tuesday as the city's Beijing-backed leader reaffirmed his unwillingness to compromise on the key demand of activists camped in the streets now for a fourth week.    (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

    A protester sitting on a barricade tries to stop taxi drivers from removing it near a line of riot police, at an occupied area, in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Hong Kong student leaders and government officials talked but agreed on little Tuesday as the city's Beijing-backed leader reaffirmed his unwillingness to compromise on the key demand of activists camped in the streets now for a fourth week. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)  (The Associated Press)

On one side of the table sat the idealistic and earnest young students in jeans and black T-shirts, knapsacks by their sides. Facing them was the line-up of seasoned government officials in their formal suits.

In an unprecedented two-hour televised meeting, the students passionately explained why they had taken to the streets for more than three weeks to fight for greater democracy in the specially-run Chinese region. The officials responded that the students' demands were not legally feasible.

The discussion yielded scant progress, and protesters remained camped out in three areas Wednesday.

The meeting also highlights the vast generational and political divide that needs to be bridged to end Hong Kong's biggest political crisis since China took control of the city 17 years ago.