21 June 2015
What next in Hong Kong-Beijing democracy tussle?
Lawmakers in Hong Kong have rejected a highly controversial proposal by the government to change the way the territory chooses its top leader.
The vote failed after only eight members of the Legislative Council voted for the motion, with 28 against it. Most of the other lawmakers in the 70-member council staged a dramatic walkout.
It capped nearly two years of debate, public consultations and months of street protests. So, what’s next for political reform in Hong Kong?
It is the responsibility of the chief executive, currently CY Leung, to initiate the process that would change how his position is selected.
But after a landslide vote against the government’s proposal this week, Mr Leung has said he plans to focus on improving people’s livelihoods, instead of political reform, for the rest of his term as Hong Kong’s top leader.
His deputies have consistently stated the process would not begin anew before 2017, when the next chief executive election is due.
That means the next chief executive will be elected in the same way that Mr Leung was chosen.
He was selected by a 1,200-member committee, composed of members largely loyal to the Chinese government.
18 April 2015
This article while seemingly a side note could hold ominous tones:
But some Chinese shoppers now say they fear for their safety on the streets of Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong government has promised to tackle the issue.
Hmmm. How would the “local” government of HK tackle the issue?
‘Don’t worry citizens, the Red Chinese Army is here on the streets just to protect their citizen day-shoppers, from the fearful scum and rabble, here on HK streets.’
A small pro-democracy encampment has started to take shape ahead of a crucial vote on electoral reform
Hong Kong has been governed under the “one country, two systems” principle since it was handed back to China by the U.K. in 1997, meaning that its citizens enjoy rights like a more open economy and greater freedom of speech than their mainland counterparts. But Beijing’s refusal to allow residents full control over electing the city’s top political post of chief executive by 2017 has caused a resentment that continues to simmer long after the clearance of the streets.
8 April 2015
Could a change of leadership in Hong Kong’s biggest university student group inject new life into the city’s protest movement?
Amid signs of fatigue and internal discord in Hong Kong pro-democracy camp, the Hong Kong Federation of Students said Sunday that members elected Nathan Law, a 21 year-old cultural studies major at Lingnan University, as this year’s secretary-general in an annual election.
Mr. Law was one of the five core members of the group last year. He succeeds Alex Chow, a comparative literature and sociology major at the University of Hong Kong, who recently expressed interest in graduate studies overseas after he graduates.
HKFS was one of two student protest groups that spearheaded last year’s Occupy protests, along with Scholarism, led by 18-year-old Joshua Wong. While Scholarism was borne out of protests in 2012 against a government proposal to introduce patriotic education in Hong Kong schools, HKFS was formed in 1958 and represents university students.
18 February 2015
From following their grandchildren around at kindergarten to hanging slanderous banners outside their homes to hacking their email to sending funeral wreaths to their doors, the leaders of Hong Kong’s anticorruption Occupy Central movement face persistent, ongoing reprisals for their political activity.
Cases of mainland Chinese activists and dissidents targeted by state security agents are well documented. These include arbitrary detention, being followed, having phone and computer communications tapped, and seeing loved ones harassed. In some cases, their children are followed to school and the employers of their spouses are pressured to sack them.
18 February 2015
“Last year was no easy ride for Hong Kong. Our society was rife with differences and conflicts,” the chief executive of the former British colony said.
“In the coming year, I hope that all people in Hong Kong will take inspiration from the sheep’s character and pull together in an accommodating manner to work for Hong Kong’s future.”
In case his message had been missed, Mr Leung noted that the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac had 12 individual “character types”. “Sheep are widely seen to be mild and gentle animals living peacefully in groups,” he said.
12 February 2015
Amnesty International says authorities in mainland China have tortured jailed at least two supporters of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests that paralyzed large parts of the semiautonomous Chinese territory last year.
The London-based rights group said in a statement Thursday at least 27 supporters of the so-called Umbrella Movement remain behind bars in China. Nine have not been given access to a lawyer and the location of four are unknown, it added.
One of those reported tortured was the well-known poet Wang Zang, who was arrested in October on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” after he posted a picture on social media in support of the protesters.
“He was not allowed to see his allowed to see his lawyer until 25 December, when he told him that he had been interrogated non-stop for five days, during which he was kicked, beaten, prevented from sleeping, and forced to stand most of the time,” Amnesty says.
1 February 2015
Thousands of pro-democracy protesters returned to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday in the first large-scale rally since demonstrations rocked the global financial hub late last year.
Some 2,000 police flanked an estimated 12,000 protesters marching on the city’s glitzy shopping and financial districts, seeking to avoid a repeat of the so-called Occupy Central campaign that saw demonstrations shut down key roads for 2-1/2 months.
Last year’s protests for a fully democratic vote to choose Hong Kong’s next leader were the most serious challenge to China’s authority since the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations and crackdown in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
While organizers stood fast to earlier demands for full democracy in the former British colony, they insisted Sunday’s march would be peaceful and not seek to occupy any sites.
“We want to make it clear to the government that … we want true universal suffrage,” said Daisy Chan, one of the organizers.
13 January 2015
Masked men hurled Molotov cocktails at the home and offices of one of Hong Kong’s most outspoken pro-democracy activists in the early hours of Monday morning.
At least three explosive devices were reportedly thrown at the residence and business headquarters of media tycoon Jimmy Lai, a long-time critic of the Chinese Communist Party who owns the Next Media publishing empire.
The perpetrators of Monday’s attacks, which began at about 1.30am, have yet to be identified by police and their motivations remain unclear.
8 January 2015
The Hong Kong government on Wednesday cemented its support for China’s plan to pre-screen candidates for the city’s 2017 leadership election, just weeks after authorities cleared the streets of protesters pushing for greater democracy.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, in an address to lawmakers, framed the debate about Hong Kong’s future as one about how an existing, Beijing-approved election nominating committee will operate rather than whether the committee should continue to exist.
Stick a fork in the democracy movement of Hong Kong.
11 December 2014
7 December 2014
3 December 2014
Leaders of Hong Kong’s Occupy Central movement surrendered to police on Wednesday for their role in democracy protests that the government has deemed illegal, the latest sign that the civil disobedience campaign may be running out of steam.
Three founders turned themselves in a day after calling on students to retreat from protest sites in the Asia financial centre amid fears of further violence, just hours after student leader Joshua Wong had called on supporters to regroup.
1 December 2014
Pro-democracy protesters clashed with police Monday as they tried to surround Hong Kong government headquarters to revitalize their flagging movement for democratic reforms after camping out on the city’s streets for more than two months.
30 November 2014
Pro-democracy protesters clashed with police as they tried to surround Hong Kong government headquarters late Sunday, stepping up their movement for genuine democratic reforms after camping out on the city’s streets for more than two months.
29 November 2014
Joshua Wong, the most prominent of Hong Kong’s student protest leaders, alleged he was assaulted by police who used excessive force — including repeatedly grabbing his genitals — during his arrest at pro-democracy demonstrations.
Wong, 18, made the claims after appearing in court Thursday charged with obstructing officers clearing a protest site in the city’s Mong Kok district the day earlier.
26 November 2014
Protesters and police again faced off in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong on Wednesday evening, hours after authorities cleared barricades and tents from a demonstration camp and arrested key pro-democracy activists.
As of mid-afternoon, a road which had been occupied to varying extents since pro-democracy protests erupted nearly two months ago was reopened to traffic.
But as day turned into evening — and many Hong Kong residents left work — the bustling commercial district once again filled with thousands of people, some of them protesters and others onlookers watching to see events unfold.
A CNN team in one area of Mong Kok saw police lead away protesters who had been tryng to reclaim the recently cleared protest site.
Some activists yelled “We want to take back the streets!” as they faced off with police and sought to stir up the crowds.
24 November 2014
“I think they should leave, because it’s been two months,” says Wisdom Cheng after picking up his associate’s degree last week at a graduation ceremony at City University of Hong Kong. “The government still didn’t reply,” adds Cheng, who participated in the protests in October. “So, I think it’s useless still staying in the protest area.”
Across the harbor in the main protest camp, demonstrators gather at night to debate the movement’s future. Since early October, the camp has gradually grown to include more than 2,000 tents, according to a census by demonstrators. But the huge early crowds have dwindled and most of the tents are empty.
China is using the Obama Method: ‘Just ignore until the people get bored.’
18 November 2014
A small group of masked protesters clashed with police while trying to break into Hong Kong government headquarters in the early hours this morning.
The demonstrators attempted to ram their way through the glass doors of the Legislative Council building using steel barricades and hurling rocks.
Riot police faced off with protesters outside the building, first using red flags and then pepper spray to force them back. Four activists were later arrested. The break-in occurred through a side door.
17 November 2014
Choi, a 21-year-old student, does not tell his parents when he heads off to join the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. It’s simply not worth the aggravation.
“We had a few discussions, but it never ended well,” he said, using only one name to avoid more trouble with his family. “We avoid talking about it now. Lots of my friends have a bad situation at home as well.”
These days, the Chinese territory of Hong Kong seems full of divisions. A generational divide separates young people who support the protests and older people who do not; tensions exist between Hong Kong and the government of China and between the peoples of Hong Kong and mainland China. There are even divisions between protesters about the best way forward.Choi, a 21-year-old student, does not tell his parents when he heads off to join the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. It’s simply not worth the aggravation.
15 November 2014
Three Hong Kong students who have led protests for greater democracy in the former British colony were denied in their attempt Saturday to go to Beijing to meet with top Chinese officials.
Alex Chow, Nathan Law and Eason Chung – members of a student group that played a main role in organizing massive street protests that started nearly two months ago – arrived at the Hong Kong airport greeted by dozens of well-wishers holding up yellow umbrellas. But they were denied boarding passes for a Cathay Pacific flight when they were told their documents that would allow them to travel to Beijing were invalid.
11 November 2014
Hong Kong’s acting chief executive on Tuesday called on pro-democracy protesters to clear sites they have occupied for more than six weeks and warned holdouts they could face arrest, a move that could swell protest numbers.
Hundreds of student-led demonstrators are camped out in two key districts of the Chinese-controlled city where they have pitched tents and set up supply stations on roads bisecting some of the world’s most expensive real estate.
Hong Kong media reported that authorities could start removing protesters as early as Wednesday.
10 November 2014
Hong Kong’s first chief executive after its return to Chinese rule in 1997 warned city lawmakers on Monday not to try to vote down Beijing’s plan to screen candidates for the city’s next leader, broadcaster RTHK reported.
Tung Chee-hwa said Hong Kong would be taking steps backward if lawmakers voted against Beijing’s political reform package for the territory, RTHK said, quoting Tung speaking at the inauguration of a think tank.
Now that the Hong Kong protests have entered their seventh week, supporters and opponents still agree on little but asking this nagging question: how long will the protests last? With one recently conducted poll suggesting that protesters are prepared to wait a year, both sides have dug in.
Various protesters over the weekend told me that they have seen little from the government the past 40-plus days to persuade them to abandon their position. They uniformly believe the resentment the protests might generate and the challenges of living on the streets are worth the trouble. “We have nothing but our voice and we must express it,” said William, 24, who has camped at Admiralty since September 28, when the first tear gas canisters were fired.
8 November 2014
Across Victoria Harbor in Mong Kok, Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement is quite literally divided. “This is the left-wing street and that’s the right-wing street,” said a student protester, gesturing to opposite sides of once-congested Nathan Road, lined with tents and tarps since pro-democracy protests began last month.
Student groups and left-leaning NGOs have collected mostly on the western side of the street, while more radical groups that call for more extreme protest actions stay on the east side. “They say that Mong Kok does not belong to the students,” the student protester explains. She asked not to be named because of criticism that she says she already receives from the groups on the other side of the traffic barrier.
6 November 2014
Pro-democracy protesters have clashed with police in Hong Kong for the first time in more than two weeks as pressure grows on demonstrators to abandon more than a month and a half of street occupations.
Wednesday’s scuffles lasted for about four hours in the busy Mong Kok neighbourhood.
Police said they attempted to arrest a man who was shining his mobile-phone light into officers’ eyes, and demonstrators responded by surging at police lines.
The two sides ended up in a tense standoff, with several protesters taunting police.
At about 2:30am, protesters charged again at police lines and flooded into a street. Officers responded with pepper spray and pushed the crowd back into their camp.
Police said they arrested three people in the confrontations, which left at least one protester bleeding from the head.
Several demonstrators arrived in Mong Kok wearing masks with the grinning likeness of Guy Fawkes, a co-conspirator in a plot to blow up the English Parliament building in 1605.
3 November 2014
In Hong Kong, the mainland Chinese don’t always assimilate easily. “It’s unusual for a mainlander to be friends with Hong Kong-ese,” says James Gao, 30, a lawyer in Hong Kong originally from Shanghai, who only after five years in the city has managed to make a few local friends and learn a bit of Cantonese. “You always try to avoid talking about politics,” he says.
That hasn’t been easy since the outbreak of the so-called Umbrella Movement, which has paralyzed the city and dominated conversations between Gao and his friends for over a month. The pro-democracy demonstrations, triggered by China’s limits on the city’s first direct elections in 2017, carry a hidden edge that most protesters and supporters have tried to downplay: the deep and growing resentment toward millions of mainland Chinese immigrants and tourists, seen by many Hong Kongers as invaders who are irrevocably changing their city for the worse.
1 November 2014
An HSBC board member riled Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters by likening the city’s citizens to American slaves who should be more patient about gaining the right to vote.
According to a Hong Kong newspaper, at a trade meeting in Paris on Oct. 29 Laura Cha said: “American slaves were liberated in 1861 but did not get voting rights until 107 years later, so why can’t Hong Kong wait for a while?”
Cha’s remarks come after HSBC, the largest foreign bank in China by both assets and branches, told investors to sell stocks ahead of the protests and pulled advertising from a pro-democracy publication.
Over the weekend, James Tien, a local legislator and head of the pro-business Liberal Party, called on Leung to resign, becoming the first such establishment figure to do so. Beijing’s displeasure at this became manifest Wednesday, when Tien was expelled from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a prestigious government body.
Tien’s call may only reinforce notions in Beijing that the billionaires who were supposed to have the Communist Party’s back are instead engaging in an internecine battle, some observers said.
30 October 2014
China has often accused “foreign forces” of trying to destabilize free-wheeling Hong Kong during the current pro-democracy protests, with a garrulous expat American emerging as a key target of attack.
Mark Simon, the right-hand man of pro-democracy newspaper magnate Jimmy Lai, has moved his family out of Hong Kong for safety and has been pressed to deny that he is a U.S. spy.
But, in interviews with Reuters, Simon insists he will not let a “relentless smear campaign” force him out of his home in the Asian financial hub and he still has plenty of stomach for the fight.
Large, loud and avowedly Republican, the 50-year-old has been portrayed across pro-Beijing media as a CIA agent – a charge also thrown at student protest leader Joshua Wong and an independent academic pollster, Robert Chung.
28 October 2014
The more Hong Kong’s beleaguered top official speaks, the more trouble he gets into. Last week, chief executive CY Leung suggested that the kind of elections protesters are demanding would give poor voters too much power. Then three days ago, he managed to offend Hong Kong’s religious community and professional athletes by saying that those sectors “do not contribute to the economy”—evidence that their inclusion in the city’s nominating committee is proof of the election body’s broad representation of society.
Now Leung is attempting to backtrack from those comments. “I understand I should have made myself clearer on some points,” Leung told reporters today. “I feel sorry about having caused misunderstanding and concerns among grass-roots people, the religious sector and the sports sector.” He added, “What I meant was that we have to pay attention to every sector. This means we should not lean towards any sector or class because of its size or its contribution to the economy.”
27 October 2014
Hong Kong police are using a broadly-written computer crime law to dissuade protesters from organizing on social media, a move that many advocates worry is restricting free speech in the city.
On Oct. 18, a 23-year-old man with the surname Tam—his full name has not been released—was arrested in his Tin Shui Wai home, and charged with “access to computer with criminal or dishonest intent” and “unlawful assembly,” according to police. Tam’s’ crime was to post a new thread on HKgolden, a message forum popular with pro-democracy protesters. The thread (link in Chinese to an abbreviated, cached version) was titled: “occupy Mong Kok on Friday, occupy Lung Wo Road on Saturday, and occupy Central on Sunday”
24 October 2014
Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong plan to hold a spot referendum Sunday on whether to stay in the streets or accept government offers for more talks and clear their protest camps.
The three main groups behind the demonstrations said Thursday they would register public opinion at the main downtown protest site, where thousands remain camped out.
22 October 2014
Most governments aren’t too bothered by what jazz saxophonist Kenny G does between concerts, but when he turned up at pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on Wednesday, the Chinese authorities were furious.
Music critics may be contemptuous of Kenny G – full name Kenneth Gorelick – as a populist purveyor of elevator muzak, but his best-selling records are adored in China, where he is a bona fide star, making his endorsement an unusual coup for protest leaders.
While Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s second in command, called on the protesters, led by the Hong Kong Federation of Students, to work within the system, student leaders said they had no choice but to work outside it.
“We should work within the system and enhance the transparency and competitiveness of the system as a whole,” Lam said. “This is a good opportunity and a meaningful dialogue. I hope the community will stay united.”
After more than three weeks of chaotic pro-democracy demonstrations, Alex Chow, one of the student leaders, called for a timetable for political reform.
21 October 2014
Hong Kong officials have ended their first round of talks with students, with the government’s chief negotiator saying she hoped for further meetings with protest leaders.
Students at the talks reiterated their demand for an unrestricted choice of candidates in the election for the territory’s chief executive in 2017.
But both Hong Kong and Beijing officials have said this is impossible.
Protests have blocked key parts of the city, although numbers have fallen.
The BBC’s Juliana Liu in Hong Kong says that although demonstrators know the chances of getting what they want are almost zero, they are staying on the streets to show authorities that the struggle for democratic reform is a long-term fight.
20 October 2014
Hong Kong’s High Court has ordered pro-democracy protesters in Mong Kok to leave the area immediately, granting injunctions in two cases against the demonstrators.
The two injunctions were granted at about 6.45pm to representatives of the Taxi Association and the Taxi Drivers and Operators Association in one case, and to representatives of the Chiu Luen Public Light Bus Company in another. The orders are effective immediately.
Mr Justice Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor, of the Court of First Instance, accepted the arguments of lawyers acting for the plaintiffs that the occupations in Mong Kok have continued for a long time and had caused public nuisance and “inconvenience”.
19 October 2014
Twenty people were injured in a fourth night of clashes between protesters demanding free elections for the semi-autonomous Chinese city, and police trying to restore traffic to the major Mongkok thoroughfare which they have brought to a standstill.
The spike in violence comes after three weeks of largely peaceful pro-democracy rallies and road blockades that have paralysed key parts of the Asian financial hub.
At a press conference at the Mongkok camp on Sunday, organisers blasted police for a response that left some demonstrators with head wounds, fractures and bruising, with others carried away on stretchers.
“If this goes on, one day there may be someone who loses his life or gets seriously injured — then the situation in Hong Kong will get out of control,” said activist Lam Cheuk-ting.
18 October 2014
Hong Kong pro-democracy activists recaptured parts of a core protest zone from police early on Saturday after hours of turmoil that the city’s police chief warned undermined order and jeopardized public safety.
Dozens of people were injured in the skirmishes, including 18 police, which raged through the night as several thousand protesters squared off again police in the densely populated Mong Kok district.
At least 33 people were arrested, Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK reported.
Police used batons and pepper spray, and scuffled violently with activists, but they were eventually forced to pull back less than 24 hours after they re-opened most of the area to traffic.
17 October 2014
Hong Kong’s riot police are breaking out the pepper spray once again after a throng of pro-democracy protesters descended on Mong Kok, in downtown Kowloon. The violence erupted hours after Alex Chow, the leader of the Federation of Students, confirmed that his group (paywall) would hold talks with the government next Tuesday (the government had pulled out of a previous round of talks).
— Tom Grundy (@tomgrundy) October 17, 2014
16 October 2014
Hong Kong’s leader is ready to participate in talks with pro-democracy protesters, the city’s embattled Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Thursday.
The announcement is a potential breakthrough in a bitter standoff between the semiautonmous territory’s Beijing-backed authorities and student-led groups who have been taking part in protests that have rocked the city for nearly three weeks.
“As long as students or other sectors in Hong Kong are prepared to focus on this issue, yes we are ready, we are prepared to start the dialogue,” Leung told reporters in Hong Kong.
“This is why over the past few days … we expressed the wish to students that we’d like to start the dialogue to discuss universal suffrage as soon as we can, and hopefully within the following week,” he said.
15 October 2014
Officers armed with riot shields, batons and pepper spray knocked activists to the ground, dragging dozens away, and tore down barricades protesters used as roadblocks around the underpass outside the government’s headquarters.
Outrage over their aggressive tactics exploded after local TV showed officers taking the protester around a dark corner and kicking him repeatedly on the ground. It’s unclear what provoked the attack. Local Now TV showed him splashing water on officers beforehand.
14 October 2014
Hong Kong police cleared more barricades Tuesday from pro-democracy protest zones that have choked off traffic in key business districts for more than two weeks, signaling authorities’ growing impatience with the student-led activists.
Appearing to use a strategy of gradually chipping away at the three main protest zones, hundreds of police fanned out in the early hours to take down barriers that the protesters had erected overnight. Officers used electric saws and bolt cutters to take down bamboo scaffolding built in the Admiralty area after a mob of masked men stormed some of the barricades the day before.
A mob of masked men opposed to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators led an apparently coordinated assault on the protest zone in the heart of the city’s financial district Monday, tearing down barricades and clashing with police.
Michael Chan had never given much thought to politics until two weeks ago when he saw footage of police using tear gas on a peaceful student demonstration. Since then the 33-year-old Canadian has spent every night at one of the Occupy movement’s protest sites.
“I’ve been coming for nine to 15 hours a day, I’ve lost a lot of weight, but it’s important that we are here to help protect the students,” said Chan, an actor, who was among the thousands of protesters who joined a mass rally on Friday night.
The number of protesters had been dwindling over the last four days as many students returned to school and university and others to work after the long public holiday, but tonight they were back in a show of force after the Federation of Students called for the mass rally Thursday. Disappointed with the government’s decision to cancel a meeting with the student protest leaders that was scheduled for Friday, Lester Shum, vice-secretary general of the Federation of Students, called for the tens of thousands who joined the Occupy movement to meet at the Admiralty protest site, now known as “Umbrella Square.”
Oct. 9, 2014
Hong Kong called off talks with protesting students on Thursday, dealing a heavy blow to attempts to defuse a political crisis that has seen tens of thousands take to the streets to demand free elections and calling for leader Leung Chun-ying to resign.
The students whose calls for democratic reforms sparked the most dramatic challenge to authorities since Hong Kong returned to Chinese control are vowing to keep up the fight.
But as the numbers of protesters dwindled Monday from tens of thousands into the hundreds, it was unclear where the tumult of the past week would lead.
Schools reopened and civil servants returned to work after protesters cleared the area outside the city government headquarters, a focal point of the demonstrations that began Sept. 26.
Mobs linked to TRIAD gangs, brawl with protestors
A night of running brawls in Hong Kong led to the arrest of 19 people, some believed to be linked to triad gangs, as mobs tried to drive pro-democracy protesters from the streets.
Of those arrested, eight men are believed to have backgrounds involving triads, or organized crime gangs, police said, and they face charges of unlawful assembly, fighting in public and assault.
Senior Superintendent Patrick Kwok Pak-chung said at least 12 people and six officers were injured during the clashes.