China – Hong Kong

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Panorama of Hong Kong City; Shutterstock ID 357652193; Usage: web; Issue Date: N/A

17 August
3 Hong Kong Activists Jailed For Role In 2014 ‘Umbrella’ Protests
(NPR) Three of the most visible leaders of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement have been sentenced to jail time for their roles in the series of massive pro-democracy protests in 2014. The sentences announced Thursday, which range from six months to eight months, revise previous, lighter penalties handed down last year and effectively bar the men from holding office for the next five years. Joshua Wong, the young man — just 17 at the time of the protests — who became the face of the movement, remained defiant as he was transported from the courtroom by law enforcement.

14 July
Ruling Threatens Hong Kong’s Independence From China
(NYT) Nearly three years after sweeping pro-democracy protests filled the streets of Hong Kong, a local court delivered the struggling movement a severe blow on Friday, removing four legislators from office and assuring China greater influence over the city’s government.
The pro-democracy lawmakers were dismissed from the Hong Kong Legislative Council because they had used unacceptable words or even dubious tones in taking oaths of office that require declarations of loyalty to China. The ruling means that democracy advocates in the semiautonomous city’s legislature will no longer have enough votes to block legislation from their pro-Beijing counterparts.
Voters entrusted us with the task of monitoring the government,” said Leung Kwok-hung, one of those unseated. “We’ve lost that power.”

HONG KONG – JULY 07: China’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning aircraft carrier arrives on July 7, 2017 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, made a five-day port call in Hong Kong over the weekend to mark its 20th anniversary of the city’s handover to Chinese rule. The military allowed 2,000 Hong Kongers aboard the only in-operation aircraft carrier of China for the first time as its been reported the presence of the carrier is a show of military force in Hong Kong, days after China President Xi Jinping warned the city against independence forces. (Photo by Keith Tsuji/Getty Images)

1-3 July
China and Hong Kong: Red red line
July 1st marked 20 years since Britain handed Hong Kong back to China. At the time, China promised that the territory would enjoy a “high degree of autonomy” under the principle of “one country, two systems”. But in a speech to mark the occasion this weekend President Xi Jinping made clear that China’s support for Hong Kong’s liberal way of life had limits. The Communist Party’s opponents face tougher times ahead


President Xi Jinping marks ‘red line’ in warning to Hong Kong on national sovereignty

In a tough speech that also calls for consensus, the president warns that any challenge to Beijing is ‘absolutely impermissible’
(South China Morning Post) Wrapping up his landmark three-day visit by swearing in the city’s first female chief executive, ­Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, on the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, Xi struck a tough yet tempered tone in his 31-minute speech before a 2,000-strong audience.
Drawing a link between the political tensions in the city and missed opportunities for socio-economic development, Xi warned that the city “cannot afford to be torn apart by reckless moves or internal rift”.
Put national interests first, Xi Jinping tells Hong Kong’s new ruling team
He spoke of the value of the “one country, two systems” model of governing Hong Kong, saying: “It embodies a very important ­tenet, namely, seeking broad ­common ground while allowing for major differences.”
The substitution of “minor” in the original Chinese saying with “major” was seen as a recognition of the city’s problems with a conciliatory message.
“Any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government … or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line, and is absolutely impermissible,” he said. “Hong Kong needs to improve its systems to uphold national sovereignty, security and development interests.”
More on 20th anniversary and Xi visit

Xi Delivers Tough Speech on Hong Kong, as Protests Mark Handover Anniversary
(NYT) President Xi Jinping of China delivered a tough speech Saturday at the end of a three-day visit to the semiautonomous Chinese city of Hong Kong, warning against politicizing disputes or challenging the authority of the central government. But he didn’t stick around for the reaction, as thousands of people took to the streets in an annual protest calling for greater democracy.
Mr. Xi came to Hong Kong to mark the 20th anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to Chinese control. He inspected thousands of People’s Liberation Army troops stationed here, met with local dignitaries and swore in Carrie Lam as the city’s new chief executive, the top local official.
His praised the city for its success as a prosperous global hub of trade and finance, but he also warned against resistance to Beijing’s control and influence, which has bubbled here for years.
Hong Kong is a “plural society” with “different views and even major differences on some issues,” Mr. Xi said while speaking to dignitaries at the inauguration of Hong Kong’s government at the city’s convention center along Victoria Harbor.
He cautioned that “making everything political or deliberately creating differences” will “severely hinder Hong Kong’s economic and social development.”

28 June
China tensions give Hong Kong an identity crisis
Twenty years after the handover, many younger residents no longer feel Chinese as divisions deepen with the mainland
(FT) Occupy — also known as the Umbrella revolution after the umbrellas used to fend off police pepper spray — failed in its mission to secure full democracy from Beijing. But it cemented the sense of a separate Hong Kong identity, and set many young Hong Kongers on a collision course with the world’s most powerful authoritarian state.
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Hong Kong on Thursday to cap a months-long, $82m extravaganza to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the return of the former British colony to China. But while the official commemoration slogan is “Together, Progress, Opportunity”, many young Hong Kongers feel their city is defined more by division, stagnation and crisis. The Chinese government is aghast at the growing support for separatism in Hong Kong. It has called on the Hong Kong government to enact national security legislation and threatened to further curb the territory’s freedoms.

28 March
3.7 million Hong Kong voters had their data stolen. Two laptops containing ID card numbers, addresses, and mobile numbers were stolen from the Registration and Electoral office. They also contained the names of the 1,200 electors on the committee that chose Carrie Lam as Hong Kong’s new chief executive on Sunday.

26 March
Hong Kong election: Beijing-backed Lam vows to heal divide
(BBC) The first woman elected to lead Hong Kong has vowed to heal divisions amid demands for more democracy and protests at Beijing’s growing influence.
Carrie Lam, 59, had the backing of the Chinese government in Beijing and was widely expected to win.
The chief executive is not chosen by public vote but by a 1,200-strong committee dominated by pro-Beijing electors.
In her acceptance speech, she said: “Hong Kong, our home, is suffering from quite a serious divisiveness and has accumulated a lot of frustrations. My priority will be to heal the divide.”
Speaking at Hong Kong’s convention centre, she said she welcomed and encouraged a spectrum of voices and vowed to “tap the forces of our young people”.

25 March
A crucial election for Hong Kong: What’s at stake?
Hong Kong chooses its next leader on Sunday in a vote overshadowed by fierce divisions over stalled political reform in the city.
It is the first chief executive election since Hong Kong was brought to a standstill by mass pro-democracy rallies in 2014. Protesters wanted fully democratic elections for their leader – but Beijing refused.
Pro-democracy campaigner Joshua Wong has called the current electoral process “a selection rather than an election”.
In a nutshell: What is happening?
A small group of mainly pro-Beijing electors will choose from three candidates to succeed outgoing leader CY Leung.
His deputy, Carrie Lam, is Beijing’s choice for the top job. But her main rival, former finance chief John Tsang, is the public’s favourite, according to opinion polls.
13 February
‘The darkest time’: Hong Kong reels over bizarre disappearance of Chinese billionaire
(The Guardian) Xiao Jianhua vanished from his luxury hotel residence, reportedly spirited away by China’s state security in a wheelchair and covered by a sheet
As Hong Kong prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of its handover from Britain to China, Xiao’s case, like the disappearance of five booksellers a little more than a year ago, highlights the erosion of promised freedoms and autonomy, and threatens to undermine the territory’s global reputation.
“There’s an increasing tendency of Hong Kong becoming more and more like just another Chinese city,” said Anson Chan, the former lawmaker and number two official in Hong Kong. “How else can we compete as a global city other than holding on to the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and rights and freedoms, particularly freedom of expressions and free flow of information?
After Xiao was abducted, his wife filed a request for police assistance – but then tried to withdraw it and reportedly flew to Japan. While the Hong Kong police have said they are investigating the case, sources have described the case as far above their pay grade.
Hong Kong’s business world meanwhile is reconsidering the implications of dealing with Chinese firms, especially those controlled by politically connected elites.
27 January
The ‘Feng Shui index’ sees a bullish Year of the Rooster for Hong Kong
(MarketWatch) Can feng shui, the Chinese system of harmonizing with one’s surroundings, forecast whether the Year of the Rooster will be a year of the bull for investors?
According to CLSA, a broker and investment group that studies the Hang Seng Index HSI, -0.06% the answer is yes, and the outlook is good.
The firm’s “Feng Shui Index” for 2017 posits that Hong Kong’s major equity index will be flat until April, at which point “the cocky bird spreads his wings to rule the roost.” In other words, a feng shui analysis indicates the Hang Seng will jump as much as 14% by July, after which it will retreat, ultimately ending the lunar year (in January 2018) about 7% higher than current levels. That would put the Hang Seng at roughly 25,000.
17 January
The elites who want to run Hong Kong are desperately trying to show they’re one of the people
(Quartz) Three, potentially four, candidates are in the running to be Hong Kong’s next chief executive in July, as the embattled current leader Leung Chun-ying steps down. There will be no election by universal suffrage to elect the next leader. Rather, an elite 1,200-member committee that is heavily loyal to Beijing will make that decision.
Authorities north of the border will ensure the chosen candidate is trustworthy, loyal, and patriotic. But they’ll also be looking for someone who can help bridge the city’s various divides—many of which stem from gross inequalities.
To that end, the chief executive hopefuls have been lining up for photo ops to showcase their common-man credentials. Housing, arguably the most acute social issue in Hong Kong, is a popular theme. The city is by some measures the world’s most unaffordable real estate market.

2016

9 December
Hong Kong’s unpopular leader said he’ll quit. Leung Chun-ying said he won’t run for re-election in March, citing his duties “as a father and a husband” and not his performance in office. Leung has been pilloried as a puppet of Beijing by pro-democracy campaigners.
During his term, there has been a drastic escalation of Hong Kong-China conflicts. Demonstrations against mainland Chinese visitors have gone up, and Hong Kongers have increasingly emphasized the ways in which they differ from mainlanders. “Localists” have been elected to the city’s legislature, and some groups have called for Hong Kong’s independence from China. As a result, Leung is sometimes sarcastically called the “father of Hong Kong independence,” and he’s inspired a fair amount of creative mockery in the city.
4 November
The “Facebook impact” on elections is real, and significant—just look at Hong Kong’s last vote
By Vivienne Chow & Heather Timmons
(Quartz) Hong Kong’s latest election may have ushered in a new era in politics. An unexpected number of voters turned out for Hong Kong’s Legislative Council election in September and delivered surprising results, thanks in part to Facebook campaigns by the city’s social media-savvy politicians.
As the US presidential election nears, analysts are speculating about the potential impact Facebook may have on turnout, and who ultimately wins the race. Hong Kong’s election may provide some clues. In Hong Kong, the “Facebook effect” pushed younger, more liberal, voters to the polls and led to an upset in what was once one of the city’s most conservative, Beijing-leaning districts.
Like citizens in elsewhere in the world, some of Hong Kong’s 7.8 million residents have grown increasingly distrustful of their local television broadcast channel, and its politically allied newspapers. So Facebook became the medium of choice for information when these voters were deciding who to support. Many candidates and political analysts published live broadcasts and creative short films, held realtime Q&As, and sent clips of debates on TV and radio, directly to Facebook’s 5 million active users in Hong Kong (link in Chinese).
China could ban lawmakers from Hong Kong parliament as crisis escalates
China’s National People’s Congress will interpret city’s ‘Basic Law’ to decide if two young pro-democracy lawmakers can be sworn into legislature
(The Guardian) China could ban two young pro-democracy lawmakers from taking up their places in Hong Kong’s parliament, a move seen as deeply unpopular by the city’s legal community and opposition politicians.
The mainland’s National People’s Congress will interpret an article of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, that says legislators must swear allegiance to “the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China”, the Hong Kong government was told late Thursday night.
Recent weeks have seen the semi-autonomous city thrust on the path to a potential constitutional crisis, as a younger generation of activists faces off against Beijing loyalists.
If the NPC ruling bars the two lawmakers from taking their seats, new elections will be held, reigniting the controversy surrounding their platform
14 October
Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement lands in council with plan to disrupt
(Globe & Mail) They swore while taking oaths of office, used an old slur for China, pledged allegiance to a “Hong Kong nation,” and tore up ballots in a vote for president of the city’s Legislative Council.
Two years ago, the Umbrella Movement brought downtown Hong Kong to a standstill with a 79-day protest. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets, but failed to achieve any political change.
Now, the movement has arrived in the Legislative Council as a new, if small, political force that promises similar tactics to upset the city’s democratic civility. This week, six new young “localist” candidates incited legislative havoc as they mixed oaths with loud protest against China.
What happened this week “may give us a taste of what will happen in the following four years,” said Eddie Chu, dubbed “king of votes” by local media for winning more ballots than any other openly elected legislator. Hong Kong newspapers have warned of looming “war” in the city’s legislature that will create “unprecedented paralysis.”
5 September
Hong Kong’s political class shaken up by new kids on the block
Arrival of six fresh, radical faces represents a generational handover among the opposition, whether pan-dems like it or no
(The Guardian) As the count continued overnight, it appeared that the new kids on the block would have the last laugh. Six fresh faces had peeled enough votes from their more established counterparts within the opposition camp to become a force to be reckoned with in a fast-changing political landscape.
One of them, Nathan Law, had protested alongside Joshua Wong during the umbrella movement. Earlier this year, the two founded a political party, Demosisto, running on a platform of self-determination and self-governance. Voters saw Law gradually reinvent himself from a street activist to a serious politician. On Monday morning, he became the youngest person to win a Legco seat in Hong Kong’s history.
There were others, too: a university lecturer who was heavily involved in the umbrella movement; an environmentalist seeking to reform the city’s land development; a pair of young activists from a year-old party called Youngspiration; and a firebrand from the controversial Civic Passion group, known for its localist, anti-mainland rhetoric.
The pack of six won largely at the expense of the traditional pan-democratic parties, who are regarded by many young voters as too passive and conservative to tackle the modern political reality. See also: Hong Kong poll: student leader Nathan Law wins seat in record turnout
4 September
Hong Kong vote sees record turnout; ‘Umbrella Revolution’ leader set for election
(CNN) Hong Kong is on tenterhooks Monday morning after pivotal elections for the city’s parliament saw record turnout numbers and lines stretching around the block.
Tensions were high as pro-democracy parties sought to maintain a majority of democratically elected seats in the Legislative Council that allows them to block certain legislation.
People were still voting at some polling stations at 2 a.m. local time Monday morning, three and half hours after the 10:30 p.m. deadline. The poll is the first major election since the financial center was rocked by pro-democracy street protests in 2014 — also known as the “Umbrella Revolution.”
More than 2.2 million people voted, according to the Electoral Affairs Commission, with a turnout of 58% — up from 53% in 2012.
1 September
Hong Kong Chooses to Fight
Sunday’s election will give young democracy activists a new platform.
(WSJ) Hong Kong will hold its first Legislative Council election Sunday since the 75-day pro-democracy demonstrations of 2014. While the body is largely powerless, the results will set the political tone for the next few years. The campaign suggests that confrontation with Beijing is likely to intensify.
Some of the student leaders from the 2014 protests chose to stand as candidates of established parties, while others ran as critics of the older pro-democracy campaigners. The younger generation identify as “localists” to varying degrees, meaning they want democracy for the city rather than China as a whole.
The most extreme localists call for Hong Kong to become an independent country.
16 August
Umbrella Movement logoThe Umbrella Movement Fights Back
By Lian Yi-zheng, political and economic commentator in Hong Kong.
The run-up to the Sept. 4 election for Legislative Council is getting tense, and the governments of both Hong Kong and Beijing are watching with keen interest. For the first time, a crop of fresh-faced candidates who cut their political teeth during the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in 2014 are hoping to bring to the lawmaking body their battle to emancipate Hong Kong from Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian control.
These “paratroopers” — as they are affectionately called by supporters in homage to their standing up to police brutality — are now asking for more than they were during the Umbrella Movement, or than the mainstream pro-democracy camp known as the pan-democrats.
However many paratroopers are allowed to run for LegCo, their emergence has already changed Hong Kong’s political scene. It no longer is a two-way contest between the pro-establishment camp and the pan-democratic camp, both of which endorse some version of the “one country” ideology and, each in its own way, considers itself to be patriotic to the mainland. Hong Kong politics is now a three-way affair, with separatism the new force to be reckoned with.
25 July
Mysterious confession fuels fears of Beijing’s influence on Hong Kong’s top newspaper
(The Guardian) The South China Morning Post is being asked to explain how it obtained an interview with a young activist who was detained by Chinese authorities
Criticism of the South China Morning Post, or SCMP as it is widely known, comes after the newspaper was bought by one of China’s wealthiest business tycoons, the founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma.
The interview with her was conducted by telephone on 10 July, just three days after Zhao’s release was announced, and was published the following day under the headline: ‘Young Chinese legal activist ‘regrets’ civil rights activism’.
“I have come to realise that I have taken the wrong path,” Zhao was quoted as saying in the article. “I repent for what I did. I’m now a brand new person.”
The story did not make clear how the SCMP had managed to make contact with Zhao and activists, media experts and Zhao’s husband and lawyer suspect the interview was set up by mainland authorities and conducted against her will.
17 May
Protests in Hong Kong. Demonstrators are rallying for greater democracy and press freedom during the visit of Zhang Dejiang, the Chinese government’s third-in-command. Some 8,000 officers have been deployed to maintain security, with activists saying they have to break rules to be heard.
9 May
It’s time to ask your telco how it’s tracking your data, Hong Kong activists say
(Quartz) Access My Info Hong Kong is a new web app built by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Keyboard Frontline, and In Media, two local NGOs, to spur more city residents to learn about what carriers know about them. It follows in the footsteps of a similar project in Canada and a pilot study in Australia, by taking advantage of local laws to force telecom providers to tell you what they’re tracking. As fears of increasing influence from Beijing grows in Hong Kong, finding out what local companies are actually tracking is more important than ever, they say.
31 March
Hong Kong’s new pro-independence political party is illegal, the city’s government says
(Quartz) On Sunday, activist Chan Ho-Tin held a press conference announcing the formation of a new political party. The “Hong Kong National Party” openly calls for the the establishment of a “National Republic of Hong Kong,” and refers to the city’s existing rule by China as “Hong Kong’s colonial government.” Chan was one of the leaders in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement, a series of pro-democracy protests that took place in 2014.
Typically, new political parties in Hong Kong register as limited companies (.pdf, pg 3) in order to establish themselves legally. But Chan said that when the party tried to register its name under Hong Kong’s companies registry, its application was denied.
Yesterday (March 30), the Hong Kong Office of Administration and Civic Affairs released a statement condemning the party. Calls for independence are in violation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, it said, and the government “will take action on the matter according to the law.”
27 January
Hong Kong and the Disappearing Booksellers
Some Hong Kong bookstores unaffiliated with the publisher have begun to engage in a form of preemptive self-censorship, removing from their shelves publications on highly sensitive subjects, such as the private lives of top Beijing leaders, which are banned on the mainland but not in Hong Kong and are sometimes bought by visitors from across the border.
(Foreign Affairs) It is hard to know how far back into the past we need to go to put the latest Hong Kong headlines into perspective. Which previous years, exactly, need to be kept in mind while trying to understand the disappearance under mysterious circumstances of five people linked to a pair of companies, Mighty Current Media and Causeway Bay Books, booksellers known for publishing and selling highly speculative and often gossipy works on the careers, kin, private lives, and factional maneuvers of leading figures in the Chinese Communist Party? One year that has to loom large is 1997. That was the year of the handover, which turned a British Crown colony into a specially administered part of the People’s Republic of China, a transition with profound implications for nearly all aspects of local political and social life. [… Beijing promised the British government and Hong Kongers that for 50 years after the city traded hands, it would be able to go its own way on many issues, with public life remaining far less controlled there than in any mainland metropolis.]
There is a more recent year, however, that is also worth paying attention to: 2012. That was a portentous year for Hong Kong thanks to student-led protests, triggered by proposed changes in how history and civics would be taught in schools. More than the student protests, though, the most relevant aspect of 2012 for the booksellers is what took place on the mainland: a dramatic power struggle that ended with one high-profile political figure, Bo Xilai, in disgrace and imprisoned and another, Xi Jinping, assuming leadership of the party and readying himself to take the presidency of the country in 2013.
In short, the path to understanding 2016 runs through 1997 and 2012.
It would be foolish to predict what will happen to the booksellers, much less to Chinese–Hong Kong relations. In 1990, with the Berlin Wall freshly toppled and the memory of massive demonstrations in Tiananmen Square and other Chinese central plazas fresh in their minds, many observers proclaimed that communist rule in China could not last much longer; yet more than a quarter century later, the party is still in control. When Hong Kong was handed over to China, more than a few confident prognosticators asserted that despite promises of being able to go its own way, Hong Kong would quickly become a place with as constrained a public sphere as a typical mainland city, yet the protests of 2003, 2012, and 2014, among other events, proved them wrong.
One thing is clear, though: when looking to the next twists and turns in both the strange saga of the booksellers and the often surprising development of Hong Kong–mainland relations, it is important to keep asking the 1997 question. Further, with Xi Jinping as head of the party and head of the state, it is important to remember the events of the year that brought him there and the measures he has pursued on the mainland as well as in relation to Hong Kong since making it to the top

2015

In China’s Shadow
Fifteen years after the handover to mainland China, Hong Kong residents worry that their identity—and their freedoms—are slipping away.
By Michael Paterniti, National Geographic, June 2012

At the edge of the South China Sea, the metropolis of Hong Kong flickers and glows, its iconic skyscrapers like molten columns, the bay reflecting all the cool blues and fuchsias of the city’s desire. With little available flatland and the most skyscrapers in the world, Hong Kong is so dense with buildings, up to a hundred stories high, that they rise from the mountainsides as if full of helium. Hong Kong is a floating city: It floats between worlds, on fluctuating currency exchange rates and IPOs, real estate speculation, and the yuan of Chinese mainlanders, who come in droves on a wave of new wealth. It floats over the sedimentary layers of its past: the ancient fishing village, pirate haunt, former British colony. Now a Chinese special administrative region, it is being remade yet again under diamond pressure. And increasingly this city of over seven million inhabitants floats on a growing sense of unease, a discomfort that stands in direct opposition to the heady, auspicious days when Hong Kong was one of Asia’s great business capitals.

Canada lawmakers hear Hong Kong democracy activist over China’s objections
(Reuters) – Veteran Hong Kong democracy campaigner Martin Lee, testifying on Tuesday at the [House of Commons foreign affairs committee] over the objections of the Chinese government, appealed to Ottawa to stand with those struggling for democracy in Hong Kong. “If Hong Kong were to go down the slippery slope as now, Hong Kong will become just another Chinese city,” said Lee, a former legislator and one of the founders of Hong Kong’s main opposition Democratic Party.
Jonathan Manthorpe post on Facebook: What Beijing — and apparently Stephen Harper — don’t get is that Hong Kong is almost as much a Canadian city as it is a Chinese one. At any one time there are between 350,000 and 500,000 Canadians living and working in Hong Kong. The population of HK is now about seven million. So one in 14 people on the streets is a Canadian. If you add the number of former Hongkongers living in Canada, our interest is even more substantial. I saw the “secret” Ottawa government documents prepared prior to the 1997 handover. They addressed the disaster scenario if Beijing came in guns blazing — something perhaps even more likely today than then. The document’s conclusion was that Ottawa would have a legal and moral obligation to mount an evacuation of the then 500,000 Canadians and their dependants. The document said the operation would require the cooperation of at least the entire US Pacific Fleet as well as the Australian Navy. When Chinese diplomats warn Harper to stay out of Chinese internal affairs, he should very forcefully tell them that Hong Kong is an internal Canadian affair and a core national interest to us.

2014

8 December
Hong Kong splinter groups fast-track rearguard action ahead of camp clearance
(Reuters) – Splinter protest groups calling for democracy for Hong Kong are springing up and fast-tracking action plans as student-led demonstrators consider a retreat from the main campsite which has blocked key downtown arteries for more than two months.
Protesters were thin on the ground on Monday ahead of an expected mid-week clearance of the main camp site at Admiralty, home to government offices and next to the main Central business district.
Chief Executive C.Y. Leung, who has branded the protests illegal, over the weekend rejected calls for more talks on political reform and warned protesters not to turn to violence when the clearance starts.
Hong Kong protesters weigh next move
(Reuters) – Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters were weighing their options on Friday, whether to call off more than two months of street demonstrations or change tactics, as one leader suggested a campaign of withholding tax to “block government”.
The Hong Kong Federation of Students will decide in the next week whether to call on protesters to pull up stakes from camps which straddle some of the Chinese-controlled city’s main thoroughfares and have tried residents’ patience.
3 December
Hong Kong ‘Occupy’ leaders surrender as pro-democracy protests appear to wither
(Reuters) – 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 center amid fears of further violence, just hours after student leader Joshua Wong had called on supporters to regroup.
Pro-Beijing groups taunted Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming as they entered a police station just two subway stops from the main protest site in Admiralty, next to the Chinese-controlled city’s financial center.
16 October
Hong Kong chief ready for talks with protest leaders
Move comes as police use pepper spray to break up pro-democracy activists after video of beating reignites protests
During an afternoon press conference [Leung Chun-ying] said the government would be willing to meet with the Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the main protest organisers, “as soon as we can, and hopefully within the following week”.
Yet Leung denied any possibility that officials would negotiate on any of the protesters’ core demands — that the government offer civic nominations and “full democracy” in 2017 elections, and that he step down. He added that the government has little tolerance for the protests, which have “created conflict with the public”
9 October
Hong Kong calls off talks with student activists as city leader investigated
(Reuters) – 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 government’s decision came as democratic lawmakers demanded anti-graft officers investigate a $6.4 million business payout to Leung while in office, as the political fallout from mass protests in the Chinese-controlled city spreads.
4 October
Globe in Hong Kong: Top political leader warns of ‘state beyond control’
Hong Kong’s top political leader on Saturday warned that he is prepared “to take all necessary actions to restore social order” if demonstrators on the city’s streets do not back away to let students and government employees return to normal life on Monday.
The warning from Leung Chun-ying came the day after protesters were punched, kicked and sexually violated, some by thugs with connections to the city’s criminal underworld.
Hong Kong’s falling value fuels Beijing’s intransigence — Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Revolution” has erupted in a city whose once-outsized role in China has been diminished, a fact that helps explain Beijing’s willingness to largely ignore protesters’ pleas for accommodation – and its likely success in doing so. As its economic might and influence have grown, Beijing has found it has less need to heed its critics. There are international ramifications to this. Such thinking has helped propel China’s increasingly assertive foreign policy, an issue likely to take on growing importance as China races toward top ranking in the world’s wealthiest nations.
29 September
Hong Kong People!
(NYT op-ed) The moment that Hong Kong citizens have been dreading for 17 years has finally arrived. And the ramifications will ripple out, to Taiwan, whose residents are increasingly wary of the idea of reunification, as well as to the fringes of Beijing’s empire, where it is struggling with suicidal Tibetan protests and a murderous ethnic insurgency in the northwestern province of Xinjiang.
Hong Kong has not yet become another Tiananmen, but the fact they are being spoken of in the same breath shows how little Beijing cares what the rest of the world thinks.
This past Sunday — when the phalanxes of riot police moved aggressively to clear the streets of peaceful protesters — Hong Kong became just another Chinese city. It was the moment when the “one country, two systems” formula Hong Kong was promised on its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 was finally laid bare as unworkable.
An editorial in the government-backed newspaper Global Times simply stated, “The radical activists are doomed.”
Hong Kongers had been waiting for months to see how Beijing would fulfill its promise to allow for universal suffrage in electing the territory’s next leader in 2017. Last month, Beijing handed down an order that candidates for chief executive, as the top leader is known, would have to be nominated by a committee packed with Beijing loyalists.
Hong Kong protesters defy Beijing with calls for democracy
(Reuters) – Hong Kong democracy protesters defied volleys of tear gas and police baton charges to stand firm in the centre of the global financial hub on Monday, one of the biggest political challenges for Beijing since the Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago.
China wagged its finger at the student protesters, and warned against any foreign interference as they massed again in business and tourist districts of the city in the late afternoon.
“Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying defiantly told a news briefing in Beijing.
The unrest, the worst in Hong Kong since China resumed its rule over the former British colony in 1997, sent white clouds of gas wafting among some of the world’s most valuable office towers and shopping malls before riot police suddenly withdrew around lunchtime on Monday, after three nights of confrontation.
22 September
Britain’s Betrayal of Hong Kong
London fails to call Beijing on its broken promises of autonomy.
(WSJ) A political showdown looms in Hong Kong. Beijing has stripped the city of the high degree of autonomy it promised in a 1984 treaty with the United Kingdom. Local residents are preparing a campaign of civil disobedience in protest. Yet London has failed to express even mild criticism of Beijing’s treaty violation.
The people of Hong Kong overwhelmingly want to elect their next Chief Executive, a reform that until a month ago seemed within reach. On Monday university and secondary students began a week-long boycott of classes to demonstrate for democracy. A new poll from Chinese University shows that one-fifth of the population is considering emigration because of the city’s uncertain future.
This turmoil is the result of Beijing’s shock decision at the end of August to rig the 2017 Chief Executive election with the most antidemocratic system tabled by its local supporters. Only politicians who receive majority support from a committee packed with Beijing’s supporters will be allowed to run.
5 September
Hong Kong activist attacks ‘deferential’ Britain
(Telegraph UK) Prominent Hong Kong campaigner tells The Telegraph Britain’s ‘shameful’ kowtowing to Beijing resembled ‘a junior clerk in the FCO’ addressing the Prime Minister
One of Hong Kong’s leading democracy activists has slammed Britain’s “deferential” and “shameful” failure to challenge Beijing over its refusal to grant the former colony genuine democracy.
Hopes that Beijing might offer Hong Kong a fully democratic means of electing its next leader were extinguished on Sunday when China’s parliament announced candidates would need approval from a heavily pro-Beijing committee.
That infuriated Hong Kong’s protest movement, with one group claiming Beijing was “killing” universal suffrage and putting the “one country, two systems” policy, introduced after handover in 1997, at risk.
The Foreign Office took until Thursday night to issue its thoughts on Beijing’s framework for the 2017 chief executive election.
“We welcome the confirmation that China’s objective is for the election of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive through universal suffrage,” it said in a brief statement.
31 August
China denies open elections for Hong Kong
For months, protesters have threatened to shut down Hong Kong if Beijing did not provide the right to openly nominate and vote for the territory’s powerful chief executive position.
On Sunday, Chinese authorities offered a broad rejection of those pleas, allowing only a form of partially open election — derided by critics as a “bird-cage democracy” — that maintains a secretive system where candidates are nominated by a 1,200-person committee. Those candidates must, the National People’s Congress said Sunday, bear allegiance to China.
“The chief executive shall be a person who loves the country and loves Hong Kong,” the decision text says.
“If the chief executive does not love the country and confronts Beijing, ‘one country, two systems’ would fail,” Li Fei, chairman of the Basic Law Committee that oversees Hong Kong, said in Beijing Sunday. He called it “a legal, fair and reasonable decision.” China and Hong Kong poised for showdown over democracy On the surface, the National People’s Congress will likely make a landmark ruling by endorsing the framework for the first direct vote by a Chinese city to choose its leader. Beijing is already hailing it as a milestone in democratic reform. However, Beijing will tightly curb nominations for the 2017 leadership poll to filter out any candidates it deems unacceptable, said a person with knowledge of the electoral framework. Only two or three “patriotic” candidates will be allowed on the ballot and open nominations will be ruled out. Instead, candidates must be backed by at least 50 percent of a 1,200-person “nominating committee”.
1 July
Hong Kong’s Biggest Protest in Decade Calls for Democracy
(Bloomberg) Protesters took to Hong Kong’s streets yesterday for the biggest rally in a decade, with marchers braving heat, rain and long delays to demand full democracy and oppose Chinese control over leadership elections. At least 510,000 people took part, Johnson Yeung of rally organizer Civil Human Rights Front told a cheering crowd, while police tallied 98,600 at its peak, broadcaster RTHK said. Both estimates are the most for the annual event since 2004.
The protests yesterday came after almost 800,000 people voted in an unofficial referendum against China’s insistence that it vet candidates for the chief executive election in 2017, and three weeks after it released a policy paper that ratcheted tensions with its assertion that the city’s right to autonomy wasn’t inherent.
Opinion: Hong Kong’s struggle for democracy matters outside of China
(CNN) — China’s State Council recently handed down an “authoritative White Paper” on the “one country, two systems” model as applied to Hong Kong. Deng Xiaoping, a reformist leader and the man who launched China toward becoming the world’s largest economy, invented the idea originally for Taiwan, but events transpired to make Hong Kong the test bed.
That tiny test bed is currently turning into a big headache for China’s leaders as 787,767 Hong Kongers voted last week in an unauthorized referendum for what they consider acceptable models of democratically nominating and electing their chief executive — the city’s top politician — in 2017. At present, Hong Kong’s chief executive — currently Leung Chun-ying — is selected by a 1,200-member election committee with the approval of Beijing.

Many are voting more against the White Paper, which maintained China’s “comprehensive jurisdiction” over the city, than for one of the models. They, and nearly the entire legal profession in Hong Kong, object to the paper calling judges “administrators” who must take orders from Beijing. …
Deng and his successors have repeatedly told Taiwan — which China considers to be a renegade province — under this concept that it could keep its army, currency and separate political system, just as long as it stuck to there being “one China.” But the White Paper on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region spells out a very different version of autonomy, one that’s closer in terms of central control to the iron fist actually practiced in the Tibet Special Administrative Region rather than the velvety promises being given to Taiwan.

2013

10 February
Hong Kong TV Drama Plays Out Uneasy Ties With China
Viewers say they appreciate the show’s realistic depictions of the shifting social dynamics of Hong Kong and the growing impact of mainland China and its visitors on the city.
(NYT) To some, the tensions captured in the show are a natural outgrowth of fears about Beijing’s increasing influence in Hong Kong, a former British colony that retained considerable legal autonomy and civil rights after it was handed back to China in 1997.
“Politically, more and more Hong Kongers resent the fact that Beijing is tightening its control over Hong Kong’s political development,” Willy Lam, a scholar on Chinese history and politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, wrote in an e-mail.
He added that the current leader of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, “is seen as a yes-man chief executive bowing to every instruction from the mainland authorities.”
“There is a common feeling that fat-cat mainlanders are driving up real estate prices,” he said. “You have witnessed of course the drama over formula milk powder.”
16 January
Pollution threatens Hong Kong’s competitiveness
(BBC) … it is not just concerns over health that have the officials worried. The bad air quality is now starting to hurt businesses.
A 2012 survey by the local American Chamber of Commerce found that a third of respondents had difficulty recruiting overseas professionals because of Hong Kong’s poor air quality. To make matters worse, there are concerns that those already working in Hong Kong may also be forced out by bad air quality.

2012

10 September
Hong Kong goes to the polls to reject interference by Beijing
Election comes after new ‘brainwashing’ pro-Chinese communist education reforms are dropped
(The Independent) Hong Kong voters were expected to give a strong vote of confidence to the territory’s pro-democracy movement after legislative elections yesterday that play a major role in determining the eventual shape of the full democracy that Beijing has promised the former Crown colony.
The elections to the 70-seat Legislative Council came shortly after the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who is seen as pro-Beijing and rumoured to be a member of the Communist Party, abandoned a controversial plan to introduce a new compulsory school curriculum, which critics said was a bald attempt to brainwash the public with Chinese Communist Party principles. Hong Kong backs down on ‘patriotism’ classes
30 July
Thousands Protest China’s Plans for Hong Kong Schools
(nyt) Thousands of people took to the streets here on Sunday to protest the introduction of Chinese national education in Hong Kong schools, a day after the city’s education minister warned that such demonstrations would not stop or delay the process.
The new curriculum is similar to the so-called patriotic education taught in mainland China. The materials, including a handbook titled “The China Model,” describe the Communist Party as “progressive, selfless and united” and criticize multiparty systems, even though Hong Kong has multiple political parties.
Critics liken the curriculum to brainwashing and say that it glosses over major events like the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square crackdown. It will be introduced in some elementary schools in September and be mandatory for all public schools by 2016.
12 July
New Hong Kong Minister Resigns Following Arrest
(WSJ) A top Hong Kong government minister resigned Thursday after being arrested by the city’s anticorruption agency in a scandal that has undermined the administration, less than two weeks after it was sworn in.
The head of Hong Kong’s new government, Leung Chun-ying, has been embroiled in another controversy regarding the addition of several unauthorized building works at his home, including a shelter over a car park and a glass canopy.
“The new government is supposed to enjoy a honeymoon period, but now it has no honeymoon period at all,” said Joseph Cheng, a political scientist at City University of Hong Kong. “It’s in a state of siege—and this is only the second week. This won’t add to the credibility of the government.”
Hong Kong and China
A city apart: A huge protest in Hong Kong challenges new leaders in the city, as well as those preparing to take power in Beijing
(The Economist) Chinese leaders will also worry that political reforms in Hong Kong that are expected to begin in 2017 with the election of a chief executive by “universal suffrage”, will spur demands for similar change on the mainland. The Beijing government will no doubt find ways to control Hong Kong’s shortlist of candidates but, unlike the recent selection of Mr Leung, who was returned by an electoral college consisting mainly of party sympathisers, the public is supposed to have the final say.
1 July
Protests as China’s Hu urges new Hong Kong leader to resolve “problems”
(Reuters) – Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday swore in Hong Kong’s new leader while calling on him to resolve “deep disagreements” ranging from recent government scandals and political discord in the free-wheeling financial centre after a year of transition.
Security was tight at the same harbour-front venue where the British handed Hong Kong back to Communist Party-run China exactly 15 years ago, with hundreds of police forming a solid ring fence to ensure the isolated demonstrations were kept out of sight and earshot.
Hu expressed China’s confidence in Hong Kong’s role as a free, law-abiding society, though in a sign of Beijing’s anxiety over recent tensions, he appealed for unity and called on the administration of Leung Chun-ying, who was sworn in for a five-year term, to heed the recent social schisms.
Hong Kong leader sworn in as protests swell
Leung Chun-ying inaugurated as chief executive, as tens of thousands stage annual pro-democracy protest.
(Al Jazeera) Calls for democracy have been catalysed by the way in which Leung got his job and by corruption scandals surrounding his predecessor.
Leung was chosen as chief executive in March, winning 689 votes from a 1,200-seat committee of business elites who mostly voted according to Beijing’s wishes.
Hong Kong’s 3.4 million registered voters, who can vote for neighbourhood councillors and half of all politicians, had no say.
22 March
Hong Kong’s race at the top ignites democratic desires
When Hong Kong rejoined China in 1997 after 150 years as a British colony, certain rights and freedoms not granted on the mainland were guaranteed here.
Among them was the right to elect the chief executive, a position roughly equivalent to mayor of Hong Kong, China’s most international city and a global financial powerhouse.
But Beijing has dragged its heels on actually giving Hong Kong citizens that right.

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