Wandering China

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Red Riding Hood Protests in Hong Kong [Wall Street Journal]


Is universal suffrage for Hong Kong by 2017 possible? One country, two systems but one election outcome? Leung Chun-Ying’s annointment as new chief executive is not well received.

Up to 15,000 Hong Kongers pay tribute to the Brothers Grimm as Red Riding Hood Protests in Hong Kong highlight pro-democracy movements in the former British colony.

For more – Even China must now realise that it needs a better way to pick Hong Kong’s leader (Economist, March 31, 2012)

TO CALL the process by which Hong Kong’s new chief executive was anointed on March 25th a flawed election is to make a category error. It was not an election at all (see article). Most of those on the “election committee” that chose Leung Chun-ying, known as C.Y. Leung and pictured right, were not really free to exercise any sort of choice. Of the 1,193 committee members who voted (out of Hong Kong’s population of over 7m), many did so under orders from Beijing. Of those not favoured with clear instructions, many were second-guessing what they thought Beijing wanted them to do.

– – –

Red Riding Hood Protests in Hong Kong
by Te-Ping Chen
Source – Wall Street Journal, published April 2, 2012

Pro-democracy protesters march on a street to demonstrate against the Chinese government’s meddling into the Hong Kong’s chief executive election in Hong Kong on April 1, 2012.

In a march themed with fanciful allusions to Little Red Riding Hood, thousands of protestors swarmed Hong Kong’s streets on Sunday in the first large display of protest since the city’s elite tapped a Beijing ally to become the Chinese territory’s next leader.

Leung Chun-ying, who is seen as having close ties to China’s Communist Party, has been nicknamed a “wolf” by local media. Protestors worry that he will weaken Hong Kong’s traditional commitment to civil liberties and freedom of speech, though Mr. Leung has adamantly maintained he will maintain the city’s core values.

On Sunday afternoon, protestors carried a giant replica of a wolfskin, and many of the women wore red scarves, in a nod to the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale. Thousands of protesters surged through the streets, shouting pro-democracy slogans, some of them wearing spray-painted models of tanks fashioned out of cardboard in a reference to the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident. Mr. Leung was selected for his post by a majority of the 1,200-member election committee. Beijing has promised the Chinese territory universal suffrage by 2017.

Organizer estimates placed attendance at 15,000, though the police said there were closer to 5,000 in attendance. The messages were pro-democracy and anti-Mr. Leung, while protestors were also vocal about Hong Kong’s yawning wealth gap, now thebiggest in Asia. “Poor people are getting poorer,” said one 60-year-old female protestor surnamed Ma. “I have less and less hope for Hong Kong.”

The protesters’ destination was the central government’s liaison office, which reportedly lobbied the city’s election committee in advance of Mr. Leung’s victory. However, police had blocked off the entrance to the building with barriers, and refused to let protesters get too near. At one point, after a standoff that went on for hours into the evening, witnesses said roughly a dozen protestors were pepper-sprayed for trying to get too close to the entrance.

“The Chinese government’s interference shows us that ‘one country, two systems’ is truly broken,” said Tsang Chun-ying, 23, whose eyes were red and still smarting after being pepper-sprayed.

“Now China’s in charge, not Hong Kong. [Mr. Leung] belongs to China’s government,” said Tony Wong, a retired engineer.

– Te-Ping Chen. Follow her on Twitter @tepingchen

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Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Democracy, Government & Policy, Hong Kong, Influence, Mapping Feelings, Politics, Public Diplomacy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Wall Street Journal

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