29 September 2014

Hong Kong Protests: Latest News, Images & Maps

Hong Kong Democracy Protests: CRT’s Live Blog,” China Real Time Report (中国实时报), Wall Street Journal, 29 September 2014.

Welcome to China Real Time’s live feed of what’s happening as pro-democracy protests kick off the week in Hong Kong, which was rocked over the weekend by tens of thousands of protesters massing in the streets and volleys of tear gas fired by the police.

Schools are shuttered in Wan Chai, Central and Western districts, with many banks and roads shuttered as well. The protests come just days before the October 1 National Day holiday, on which China will be celebrating the 65th anniversary of its founding. …

Jethro Mullen and Catherine E. Shoichet, “Hong Kong Protesters Dig in and Brace for Possible Crackdown,” CNN, 29 September 2014.

Hong Kong (CNN) — Thousands of demonstrators bracing for the possibility of a police crackdown packed streets in the heart of Hong Kong early Tuesday.

Protesters had masks, protective goggles and plastic raincoats on hand as they camped out on the main thoroughfare leading into the city’s central business district around 3 a.m. Tuesday, about 24 hours after officers had fired tear gas and pepper spray at the crowd.

“They’re all ready just in case there is any sort of move by the Hong Kong police,” CNN’s Andrew Stevens reported.

Michael Forsythe, “The Hong Kong Protests: What You Should Know,” New York Times, 29 September 2014.

Hong Kong belongs to China. But the grass-roots political movements responsible for the protests underway in the heart of the city’s financial district would never have taken root in any other Chinese city.

Freedom of speech, assembly, religion and a free press are all enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, drafted to govern the city of 7.2 million people upon its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 after more than 150 years of British rule. Hong Kong residents are guaranteed those rights until 2047, and a legal system inherited from the British helps keep it intact.

It is a system called “one country, two systems” that the leaders in Beijing hope — or hoped — would someday also be applied to Taiwan to encourage its political reunion with the motherland. Taiwan has been ruled separately since 1949.

Lately, however, Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, have been reminding Hong Kong that the first clause of that phrase, “One country,” is in Beijing’s eyes more important than the second. Hong Kong is not an independent country. It doesn’t have ambassadors, and the People’s Liberation Army garrisons troops in the city, headquartered in a former British military building on the waterfront. Any changes to the Basic Law have to be ratified by the country’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, which is controlled by the Communist Party. …

Hong Kong Explained: Mapping the Protests and Exploring the Key Issues,” Associated Press, 29 September 2014.

HONG KONG — Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong are drawing thousands of mostly young residents of this former British colony into the streets in a massive but peaceful movement of civil resistance to Beijing’s plans to screen candidates for the post of the city’s leader, or chief executive. Here are the major issues and people in the dispute. …

Stephen Stromberg, “Hong Kong Protesters Could Change Beijing’s Thinking,” Washington Post, 29 September 2014.

HONG KONG — In the eyes of many elite observers, the pro-democracy protesters occupying streets and plazas in Hong Kong’s business and political core are hopelessly naive. Though the city is mostly self-governing, Beijing has power over its political development, and the mainland’s ruling Communist Party is unlikely to accede to popular demands for unfettered democracy. Changing course amid the dramatic popular protests of recent days could encourage subversive ideas among Chinese citizens elsewhere. Rather than encouraging change, disorder in Hong Kong could confirm Beijing’s worst fears about loosening up.

But Hong Kong residents — a majority of whom want authentic democracy, polls show — need not lose hope and quietly acquiesce to Beijing. Democracy in Hong Kong is down but not doomed.

By the terms of the “one country, two systems” arrangement negotiated during the city’s 1997 handover from Britain to China, Hong Kong is supposed to move steadily toward democracy. But Beijing must approve the steps Hong Kong takes, and Communist Party leaders have decided against a liberal approach.

The current unrest is over an electoral reform proposal Beijing put forward this summer. Under the handover arrangement, residents of Hong Kong were promised the right to elect their chief executive by universal suffrage in 2017. But China’s central government has insisted on keeping tight control on the process of nominating candidates prior to the vote. Beijing’s aim is less to control day-to-day government in Hong Kong than to ensure that the city will never have a chief executive hostile to the Communist Party. …